What a brilliant book! Little Tea has so many layers that I don’t know where to begin.
In essence, it tells the story of Celia Wakefield, who had a liberal upbringing on a plantation in Mississipi in the 1980s, despite the lingering racism against African Americans. She has a happy life with her best friend, Little Tea until a terrible tragedy occurs which causes her to flee her home state and never look back.
The book begins with Celia and her close friends Renny and Ava, now nearly 50 years old, meeting for a weekend at Mississippi after a long time. Returning to the seat of her tragedy causes many memories to unfurl, which are described in flashback chapters.
The reason for the meeting is to help Ava figure out how to fix her failing marriage. Although the three women are completely different in terms of personality, they have managed to remain friends for over 30 years.
The undisputed heroine of the book is Little Tea, who stole my heart with her confidence in the face of discrimination. But what happens at the very end was a shocker for me. Can people get over their prejudices and change that much?
It was interesting to read about the culture of Southerners and how they consider everything outside their state as foreign. Celia’s mother made a special impression on me. Her dignity and grace in the face of everything is inspiring. She belongs to a time when brushing things under the carpet was preferable to speaking about it, even in front of family.
The author’s language and writing style is so accomplished that I don’t know how to do her justice. She describes feelings, perspectives, and relationships with a skill that makes you want to pause and think instead of rushing through the book.
This isn’t a quick and light read. It is a book to be savored, little by little. The author describes all the characters and their side stories one by one without losing the main plot or the attention of the reader.
In the end, you’re not sure if you feel sorry for Celia’s naivete or admire her fortitude. I’m still trying to decide if she was right to escape it all to a far-off place or she should have come back at some point to resolve the pain and betrayal.
There’s much to chew over in this sensitive portrayal of friendships and family. Highly recommended if you want an elevating but non-preachy book!
(I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for an honest review.)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Southern Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publication date: May 1, 2020
Publisher: Firefly Southern Fiction
Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy
One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.
For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.
As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.
Amazon India — https://amzn.to/2zKHmrp
About the Author
Claire Fullerton hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. She is the author of Mourning Dove, a coming of age, Southern family saga set in 1970’s Memphis.
Mourning Dove is a five-time award winner, including the Literary Classics Words on Wings for Book of the Year, and the Ippy Award silver medal in regional fiction ( Southeast.) Claire is also the author of Dancing to an Irish Reel, a Kindle Book Review and Readers’ Favorite award winner that is set on the west coast of Ireland, where she once lived.
Claire’s first novel is a paranormal mystery set in two time periods titled, A Portal in Time, set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. She is a contributor to the book, A Southern Season with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, set at a Memphis funeral ( because something always goes wrong at a Southern funeral.)
Little Tea is Claire’s 4th novel and is set in the Deep South. It is the story of the bonds of female friendship, healing the past, and outdated racial relations. Little Tea is the August selection of The Pulpwood Queens Book Club a Faulkner Society finalist in the William Wisdom international competition, and on the long list of the Chanticleer Review’s Somerset award. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary Agency.
More reviews at https://www.clairefullerton.com/little-tea-reviews