(Image from Barnes & Noble)
People have been flocking to Scarborough—the famed seaside town on England's Yorkshire Coast—for hundreds of years. They come seeking adventure, relaxation, and a refuge from their cares. For three very different women whose lives intersect there one Fall, Scarborough will become a place out of time, a place where they discover what they really want and find the courage to be who they really are.
Kat Murray, a 26-year-old single mother, dotes on her young son. With cash running low, she's desperate to find a job that will pay the bills but not encroach on her time with Leo. Worried about making ends meet, Kat finds solace where she always has—at the Seafront Tearoom. The owner of the quaint shop has long mothered Kat, offering support, strength, and love. Séraphine Moreau, a French au pair, stumbles onto the tearoom by accident. Although she's in England to tutor a prickly 10-year-old, her main reason for fleeing Bordeaux has more to do with the secret she's keeping from her family. The tearoom, and its sympathetic proprietor, give Séraphine something she never expected to find in Scarborough—warm, lasting friendships that give her the strength to deal not just with her difficult charge, but also with her personal dilemmas. For go-getter Charlie Harrison, visiting Scarborough is a matter of killing two birds with one stone. The Londoner can do her sisterly duty by dropping in on perfect, judgmental Pippa, while fulfilling an assignment for the culinary magazine she hopes to run one day. Unsuspecting Charlie gets more than she bargained for, however, when she finds her sister in a crisis, herself on the verge of being fired, and a handsome architect who wants more from her than she's prepared to offer. The Seafront Tearoom, where she meets both Kat and Séraphine, becomes her shelter from the storms brewing in her life.
As the trio of women become acquainted, a strong, bolstering friendship forms between them. With each of them struggling in their own unique way, the bond (solidified over copious amounts of tea) provides what they need to fight their battles. But will they triumph away from Scarborough's warm embrace? Or will their trials be too much for any of them to bear?
The Seafront Tearoom, a new romance by British author Vanessa Greene, is a light, warm-hearted tale about friendship, family, and finding oneself in the most unexpected of places. It's a quick, fluffy read with a happy, too-neat ending that feels satisfying if not entirely realistic. Although one of the novel's plot twists did catch me off-guard, most of the plot is as routine and predictable as, well, afternoon tea. The women at the center of the story are all pleasant, just not overly interesting or exciting. Which, incidentally, describes how I feel about The Seafront Tearoom overall—it's a nice, easy read that's enjoyable but not particularly memorable. I liked it, didn't love it.
(Readalikes: Reminded me of other novels about women forming fortifying friendships because of shared interests [knitting, book clubs, art classes, etc.], although no specific titles are coming to mind. Suggestions?
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for brief, mild language (no F-bombs) and a couple non-graphic references to sex