The Teashop on the Corner, by Milly Johnson

I am always drawn to light-hearted, feel-good books that bring, often very different, people together under one roof. I know before I begin that the people that meet there will influence each other, they will grow alongside one another, and that friendships will, ultimately, blossom. It’s a formula that I enjoy. In Milly Johnson’s The Teashop on the Corner, a charming cast of characters find themselves at a teashop, where they discuss books and life, become firm friends, and, for some, find love.

Carla’s world has just been turned upside-down when, at her husband’s funeral, she discovers he was keeping a huge secret. Always unlucky in love, the older Molly is completely confused at the sudden reappearance of her ex-husband, Harvey, who is trying to charm his way into a second chance. Will has lost his business…and his wife…and his house. In need of a friendly smile and a cuppa, they all find their way to Leni Merryman’s Teashop on the Corner.

As they eat cake, drink tea, and fervently discuss and compare literature, the customers at Leni’s teashop get to know each other, and find in each other a support that was much needed. Tears are shed, truths are uncovered, and laughter is shared, and second chances are in store for them all.

Johnson’s heart-warming tale of friendship is as charming as the book’s cover. That said, it took me a while to decide whether it was a book I was going to enjoy. I can’t put my finger on what had me feeling reticent at first – perhaps it was nothing more than the initial chapters lacking in a certain chicklit je ne sais quoi that usually draws me in. I’m so pleased I gave Leni and her teashop a chance, however. After a while – and I can’t quite say when – I realised I’d been drawn into the characters and their stories, waiting to see if the individual threads would move forward in the way I hoped.

All of the characters had their individual struggles, and it was easy to get involved with them as they tried to move ahead with their lives. There are no leading ladies in this story. Instead The Teashop on the Corner is a true ensemble piece, with the individual threads all as important as each other, and their interweaving at the heart.

The most exciting part of the novel – for a bookworm, anyway – was the teashop itself. Alongside baking utterly delectable sounding cakes, Leni also sells bookish stationary and paraphernalia from her shop. I was dreaming about where I might be able to source some of her hard-to-find items, wishing that they weren’t just made up. And the conversation and discussions about books and authors had me wanting to pipe up with my own opinions to see if anyone agreed.

This was an easy, enjoyable read that threw in a bit of a surprise, had me shed a tear or two, and had me smiling most of the way. Johnson has created such an appealing atmosphere at her teashop that I am currently seeking out a one of my own.

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TITLE: The Teashop on the Corner
AUTHOR(S): Milly Johnson
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
RRP: $32.99
ISBN: 9781471114649

Emma is an ardent writer, reviewer and editor. She currently lives in Orange, NSW, where she shares her time between writing, undergraduate studies in Linguistics and French (oui, c’est vrai!), and her “day job” as a yoga teacher. Emma especially enjoys reading women’s fiction, contemporary fiction and the classics.

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