I don’t remember when was the last time I read a romance novel, the good old romance with a little bit of comedy which used to be my favorite at some point in time in the past. I liked romcoms so much that I started hoarding books of the same genre, reading and re-reading, especially Sophie Kinsella, because I feared I’ll never find anything half as good and I’ll lose my interest in romcoms. It happened, eventually, when I started reading a lot of other genres for fun and for review purposes until I came across The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley while it was free to download on Kindle. A book hoarder never leaves any opportunity, right!?
The story follows the life of Alice Rose, a foundling, who after being abandoned by her birth mother on the moors of Haworth finds herself wanting to reach out to her before she can find herself at peace.
When Alice, a baker, and part-time writer, arrives in Haworth and finally sees the cafe and the flat over it that she had bought on impulse after the freak accident which killed her fiance, she is in for a shock. Apparently, the seller had duped her, more like made her a fool for buying a property without having a look at the place first. She deserved it right, who invests such a huge amount without even looking at what they are up for? But then, she hadn’t had her head straight after the sudden death of the man to whom she was engaged and the subsequent revelation that he was actually married to his teenage love and hadn’t bothered to tell her, though the lovebirds of the past were done and hadn’t seen each other in a long long time. Until the so-called wife decided to pay a visit to Alice and claims to have inherited the departed man’s cafe and the house next door, which, needless to say, which came as a rude shock to Alice. The only saving grace that kept her head afloat was the windfall she received in the form of insurance money, her fiance may have had his shortcomings but he did remember to name her as his beneficiary for the recent insurances that was required in his field of work. So, back to run down cafe and the flat that was now hers, Alice finds herself in a fix when her handsome, Greek God-like neighbor, Nile Giddings arrives to save her, without meaning to, and takes her to his place where his mother takes in paying guests.
The Giddingses are a large family by modern terms, living under a single roof is the mother, a son and his wife and their little baby, a daughter, and of course, Nile himself. They also take a liking to Alice quickly, making her feel at home and allowing her to gather her thoughts as to how to proceed further with the cafe and the flat. Having left the home of her adoptive parents after her father died, Alice had been living by herself all over the country and she was not a meek girl to back down in the face of a challenge. Deciding that she’ll revamp the cafe as an upmarket afternoon tearoom and make her flat habitable, she got to work immediately while enjoying the growing closeness with the Giddingses, especially Nile with whom she seemed to have a clouded relationship. While she is juggling between her cafe and her writing of adult fairy tales, she also wants to look for her biological parents, mother, in particular, to get to know her and understand the reason behind her abandonment.
Will Alice be able to handle herself with so much on her plate? Will she find her birth mother and come to terms with her past which she isn’t able to let go?
I forgot how much I used to love romcoms when I began expanding my horizons and started reading other genres. I have already mentioned how I came across this book ages ago and read it just recently, and frankly, although it is no Kinsella, I found it fairly good compared to our desi romcoms. I had forgotten what the storyline was supposed to be like, and kept assuming something else and waiting for it to come. But after completing the story I went back to check the blurb and realized that I was wrong in my assumption. Anyway, what matters is that I liked the book, assumptions, or not, and my review could be biased because of it.
Alice, the protagonist tells the story in this book along with little snippets from another woman. When I say tell, it’s actually told, and not something that is shown or can be imagined, a thing that although I don’t like about novels, I am still ready to forgo this time because I sort of imagined the story being adapted for the big screen, and which seemed all very romantic to me. The language is lucid, however, the references to local things and some famous classics throw off the reader if they don’t know about it. It made me wonder if I should have read this novel after reading those classics, especially Wuthering Heights. The pace is slow, the majority of the story is barely 6-8 months, with extremely detailed bits with at times was unnecessary. The plotline is predictable. Before I was halfway through, I could make out what was going to happen but it ended with a little twist which I didn’t see coming. Another aspect that generally puts me off is shallow characters, like here. Even though the length of the story was above average, and there were a lot of supporting characters, they weren’t built as much as they could have been, not even Alice’s. She is, in fact, made to look like a doubtful character, one day she is all big and independent, and the other day she needs all the help in this world from strangers to pick herself up and carry on through the day. Nile, on the other hand, looks too perfect, and so does his family, but I like him. Greek God with a disarming smile? I’ll take him any day
The main plot revolves around Alice trying to set up her teashop and finding her birth mother. The issue of abandonment is a recurring thing in her life, her birth mother, adoptive father, first boyfriend, and then-fiance, all seemed to leave her in some way or the other. She thinks that maybe if she could get her mother’s views on the actions she did and from where her abandonment began, Alice might be able to let go of the feeling of not belonging anywhere and finally have her closure. When I think of it, the plot seems quite serious for a rom-com novel and I’ll give bonus points to the author for not making fun of it, but instead dealing with it with maturity amidst all the fairy tale.
A strong point that emerged from the story is how the instances in our life define our journey and ultimately who we become. Whether it be sour or sweet, such instances help us make better decisions. Taking things as they come and make them beneficial for us is what is needed, crying over spilled milk will not make the jug full, right?
Despite all the faults in the writing, I found the story to be entertaining and a light breezy read. Sometimes happy endings are all that is required.