Book: The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe
Publication date: June 5, 2012
Source: Review copy from publisher
Summary: The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe begins with a depressingly despondent narrator, Grace, moving to Macau for her husband’s job. It’s not the move that has her feeling desolate; it’s her inability to get pregnant. A combination of childhood memories from Paris with meeting a chef on a rare outing, eventually leads to the opening of a tea shop that specializes in macarons — French cookies consisting of a sweet flavored filling sandwiched between crisp almond meringue.
Here is a passage about eating macarons after her first lesson in making them:
The first one I taste is dark chocolate with a center that is firmer than I had expected but that melts on my tongue in seconds. The second one is raspberry, the ganache retaining the roughness and texture of the fruit. The almond paste is stronger in this one, nuttier; blended together with the raspberry, it tastes of autumn. The last macaron is passion fruit. I know the shells are unflavored, but it tastes as though the entire sweet–the shells, the ganache, the scent–is alive with the zest of passion fruit before it even enters my mouth. Then, acidic on the tongue and rounding off a heavy sweetness. The perfume of the passion fruit macaron is like a bunch of lilies, assaulting and exotic. I close my eyes for a second, savoring each one. (p. 73)
Thoughts: As a woman who never chose to have children, I’m only going to hang on so long with a character who lets infertility keep her from leaving her apartment in a vibrant exotic city. I wanted to hand her a list of ways a woman can have a meaningful life even if she’s never a mother. Fortunately, that list would include opening up a tea shop that serves macarons reminding you of your childhood in Paris. Well, my list wouldn’t have that much detail, of course, but it’s the perfect goal for Grace and she happened upon it before I gave up on the book, thank goodness.
Each chapter is named for a macaron that Grace creates for the shop. Often the flavors echo the plot or illustrate something about the quirky cast of characters that frequent the shop.
- La Ville Lumière–City of Light, Parisian Crêpe-Inspired Banana with Hazelnut Chocolate Ganache
- L’Espoir–Hope, Provençal Lavender with a Sweet Fig Buttercream
- Thé pour Deux–Tea for Two, Pink Earl Grey Infused with Dark Chocolate Ganache
Doesn’t that list make you hungry? I really wanted to find a macaron to photograph and eat for this post. Unfortunately, according to this article, Sweet Sensation: The latest sugary craze trickles into town, the macaron hasn’t fully reached St. Louis. There are a few places with the plain almond macaron. I was going to make do with one of those, but I have issues with bakeries these days. If I knew I could walk in to buy one or two, I would do it. But if my choice is between zero or a dozen, I would have to go with zero and that would feel like a wasted trip so I never made the effort.
I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for opportunities either in this city as the macaron craze reaches us or in other places as I travel. I could think of worse reasons to plan a trip to Paris.
Appeal: This is a book for women more than men, although a man fascinated with Parisian baking, exotic travel, or the ins and outs of running a café might like it, too.
Reviews: Swapna Krishna liked the book, Book Review: The Color of Tea – Hannah Tunnicliffe, as did Kristin at Always With a Book, Review: The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe. Kathy at BermudaOnion’s Weblog had a problem with the too neatly wrapped-up ending, Review: The Color of Tea. The post at Stephanie’s Written Word does a terrific job of highlighting the characters in this novel, The Color of Tea. Stephanie also had a problem with the ending. The ending didn’t bother me, but I read romance novels so I like that happily ever after smile when I’m finished reading a book.
Challenges: This is my 13th book for the Foodies Read Challenge of 2012. I might make it to the 19 books I planned.
Visit Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads for a gathering of blog posts about restaurants, recipes, and reading about food.
Have you read this book? What did you think?