Not having read book one and two, I wondered what it would be like to jump into a series at book three. Without knowing what I was missing, I can say with certainty that it didn’t take overly long to get my bearings in terms of the characters. The only issue I was having was of where it was supposed to be taking place.
The book opens with us joining Adela in deciding whether or not to help the newbie of the all-girls school, Flowers, from the malicious torment of Nina. From that scene we move to an introduction of Sam Jackman and his monkey Nelson. Then to a talent show, a stowaway in the boot (which I knew from previous readings elsewhere means the trunk of the car), to a novel that keeps turning out surprises.
I was unclear on setting until about 10% of the way through. It was a bit confusing since the characters talk about being from Britain, but then there some slurs against some of the girls for being part this and part that. So I wasn’t clear initially on location.
Around the start of chapter four, I realized that it was taking place IN India and some of the girls/their families were FROM Britain. ”
I wonder if books one and two dealt with Adela’s parents and the things leading right up to? It was an adventure to have no prior knowledge of storylines on this. Having never jumped into a series without starting at book one, I felt rebellious.
My working vocabulary grew from this. I learned words like “upbraided” and “tiffin” among others.
Adela runs into Sam again and witnesses him choose another woman. Adela then turns to a prince who has been seeking her out and begins an illustrious affair with him despite warnings from others.
I found it intriguing to read about a character that I didn’t actually identify with very much in terms of how she portrayed herself. Adela is shown to be very outspoken, boisterous, and prone to making rash ill-planned decisions. She is a character very unlike myself who despite, or perhaps because of this, I found enjoyable to read. She is a sympathetic character that even as you watch her making poor choices, you still root for her and want things to go well for her regardless of what led her.
An unfortunate hunting trip changes her life forever and Adela goes to live for awhile with one of her aunts back in England, a country she did not actually grow up in, with her aunt and cousin. This aunt, Olive, is very overprotective of Adela’s cousin, Jane, who is in her early twenties and can’t stand up for herself very well against her overbearing Mother. Adela swoops in like a breath of fresh air; until she is proven to have a secret she hadn’t consciously realized herself until it is pointed out to her.
Political talk lightly weaves through the tale, mentioned by characters in passing on a few occasions and the topic of discussion/family alignments for some too, until we discover that World War II has broken out.
The kindness shown by a few women that used to know Adelas’ mother, speaks volumes of how respect and honor need not only be given by those that are in power or blood-relations, but can come carry down through generations. Sometimes, family may turn on you, and virtual strangers may feel closer than you could have imagined. It’s a beautiful read.
I enjoyed living in this world created. It was nice to see the changes as the characters grew up. To share in their joys as well as sorrows. The writing here is a delight to the senses. The descriptions were vivid without being overly done and the new word/culture exposure was a sharp change from the type of books I usually read.
The war is mentioned as happening almost as a backstory to the main actions that occur. Adela is reminded of a mistake from her youth that causes her to reflect on her decision with what read like a hint of regret but ultimately sounded like she would make the same choice again if she could live it over again.
Adela and Sam cross paths again, and they have the same issue that seems to crop up in a lot of star-crossed romances, communication problems.
I am including my notes during reading (I have been more conscious as of late to try to limit spoilers in my note-taking):
4.0% “31 chapters total. Just finished chapter 2. So far so good.”
11.0% “Takes place in 1933. Are we actually in India here and this is a section of Britain that had settled to spread the Christian gospel? I feel like I need to research some History to know for sure. Story itself is clipping along well. Adela and Sam are interesting and what a surprise to come home to!”
18.0% “Through a few thank you letters for birthday cars we are moved up to 1937 and some things that have happened along the way. I love that Adela is still thinking about Sam; although she hasn’t seem him in years. it still makes sense because how many boys has she really been around? Not many.”
66% “Tiffin is one of my favorite words now. (Lunch)
92% “Adela is part of a touring theater group, along with some untalented folks who make up the other “acts”, and she along with the friends in the group sing and perform to try to lift the spirits of the soldiers. The wounded are an especially hard group to perform for as Adela feels deeply for them, and she even comes across an old flame of hers that she hardly recognizes. Letters continue to help move things along.”
96% “Oh you beautiful naive humans. Talk to each other. Tell each other. What is the worst that could happen? Stop being so judgemental of one another when things are revealed. No one is perfect. Be honest and then figure out if you can “move past” later. Don’t just speculate endlessly on how you think the other *may* react. Ugh!”
This starts off in India in the early 1930s and by the mid-to-late thirties takes place in Britain with some scenes still occurring in India. The story is told in third person omniscient so we can get into the minds and eyes of various characters without too limited of view.
I would recommend this book, even if you haven’t read the others, as I felt this did solid taken as a stand-alone. The ending felt a little abrupt and like “Quick, let’s tie a ribbon around it and call it done” which was my only real complaint as a whole.
I was sent this ARE to review along with a few others and hadn’t realized at the time that it was sent to me the *day* before the release date. Well, that’s great now though because the wait is done before it began!
The Girl From The Tea Garden is now available for purchase.
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing