Our leading lady here is Laurie, a transplanted Brit who is thriving in New York City yet still works with her best friend Krista long distance on their travel guide business. A huge new opportunity for Laurie to add her love of baked goods into her pleasure of travel arrangements comes from another woman from her homeland, celebrity baker Pamela Lambert-Leigh, who is in need of a personal assistant.
Upon passing the audition round(thanks to a trip to Lady M), Laurie is happy to learn that Pamela wants to embark upon a mini-tour of the U.S. in order to gather recipes for a new cook book. The goal is to exchange traditional English treats for American ones, such as Victoria Sponge and Red Velvet cake.
The trip itinerary is set for the East Coast and is to be done via a red double-decker bus to be driven by Pamela's mother Gracie. Despite some of the unusual details, Laurie is eager to get started and is thrilled to be working for one of her favorite TV personalities:
Laurie manages to have a firm hand with Ravenna(her moodiness and ill manners remind her of the troubles with her own wayward sister Jessica) and keep things going at a good pace regardless of the family tension.
What drives Laurie to make the best of each awkward situation as it comes is the joy of seeing Pamela at work. Her love of cakes and enthusiasm to discover new pastry delights is a passion that they share and makes the two of them more like friends than boss and employee:
Just as things are starting to get somewhat better, Gracie gets into a slight accident with the bus that causes her to stay behind to recover. Finding a replacement driver turns out to be easy, as a long ago love of Pamela's life is not too far away to lend a helping hand.
As the trip goes on, Laurie has to deal with a number of new developments such as a family secret about to be revealed and the possibility of new romance for more than one person on tour. Will she be able to keep to the plans already made or she is about to change course in more ways than one?
The Traveling Tea Shop is a charming blend of female friendly plot, pastry demos and cultural history. Belinda Jones, from what I found out, often delves into travelogue motif for her stories and this book is the perfect armchair journey to take, complete with delicious food to enjoy. As the characters discover more about themselves as well as the recipes and background information about each location, your level of engaging entertainment grows. The parts about Newport alone could fill several books:
There are so many components in this story that appeal to a wide variety of readers, from cake connoisseurs to New England visitors to those who love the way British writers present warm hearted tales like this, and yet like any good recipe, it takes all of the ingredients to make this tasty treat delicious for all.
The Traveling Tea Shop is now available in paperback and if you're in the mood for a truly fun staycation, this is your one stop shopping destination, folks. Just sit down with this book and your slice of favorite cake to savor the simple joy of finding a familiar comfort from home anywhere in the world: