The Traveling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones is a delightful novel about a famous British baker, a travel agent, and a red double decker bus. It takes places on the East Coast of the United States, and is at parts a delicious food novel, a travel guide, a romance, and a family drama. It all combines to be an excellent read about how life can change for the better even when it doesn't seem like such a good idea at the time.
Laurie Davis is a Brit living in New York City, running a travel/tour-guide business with her partner. She's given the opportunity to work for Pamela Lambert-Leigh, a famous British baker (and Laurie's idol). Pamela is traveling around the East Coast visiting places known for their famous desserts, learning how to make them, and "exchanging" those recipes for a British dessert recipe. It's all part of an idea her publisher has for a new cookbook. Along for the ride is Pamela's fun-loving mother Gracie and her sullen and sulky 20 year old daughter Ravenna. There's clearly tension between Pamela and her daughter, and Gracie and her granddaughter. All get together on a red double decker bus fitted out with a kitchen and driven by Gracie as they travel from New York City to Newport, Rhode Island, Maine, Boston, and other ports of call. Along the way all sorts of stuff happens. Potential love matches, accidents, revelations, and evolving relationships. I loved all the characters and they made a great group dynamic. I have decided I really, really need to visit Newport, Rhode Island. It sounds like a spectacularly beautiful place.
Kick off your summer vacation reading with this novel. You'll love it as much as I did. A refreshing breath of air after finishing school and graduating last week.
Available in paperback and e-book.
Rating: 7/10 for a great group dynamic between the characters, a unique plot and OH THE FOOD.