Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop
by Rebecca Raisin
Published by HQ, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd., 2019
SRP U.K. 12.99, CAN 24.99
Reviewed by Clare McBride, April 2021
“'Sometimes I feel like I’ve lived a thousand lives already,’ he laughs. ‘And one thing I’ve learned is there is no right way to walk this earth, and we can only learn from those in our lives, take whatever lesson we can from it and keep going.’”
Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop is the first Rebecca Raisin book I have read, despite the fact she has authored so many titles. The book was a birthday gift from a friend and is outside my normal preferred genre, but she thought I might connect with the main character, Rosie, due to mutual life experience. And she was right! I fell in love with both Rosie and Aria immediately and could not put the book down once I had started it. At the beginning of the book, in a brief introduction of Rebecca it states, “Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with” and I think she completely nails it with this one! Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop is a comforting, simple read that lifts you out of your own reality with ease, just like a good read should.
Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop follows the adventures of Rosie Lewis, an ultra tidy, meticulous Michelin-starred Sous Chef who suddenly finds her world turned upside down when her husband confesses to his extra-marital affair. Unable to forgive his cheating, Rosie drowns her sorrows in a glass of wine and awakens the next day to find she has spent most of her life savings purchasing a bright pink campervan named Poppy on the Internet. Rosie suddenly catapults herself into life on the road with Poppy, making ends meet selling tea and baked goods at fairs and festivals. She meets several other nomads, with stories of their own, along the way who become an integral part of her new life, especially irresistible Max, who becomes embroiled in a sort-of love triangle with Rosie and an Internet stranger named Ollie. Rosie learns some hard life lessons in her new helter-skelter life, including that not every act of kindness has an ulterior motive, but also that you cannot trust everyone you meet, especially on the Internet.
Reading Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop was straightforward and enjoyable. Rebecca’s writing is simple, easy to follow and flows beautifully. Part of not being able to put the book down was the ease of reading. I found something relatable in each and every one of the characters. Rosie’s need to have a plan, Aria’s need for space when her grief overwhelmed her and Max’s way of dealing with stress by cracking jokes all resonated with me, making it easy to love each one of them. The story was heartwarming without being too sappy. Rosie is a damaged soul who gets the short end of the stick at first but overcomes her fears, rooted in past traumas, and opens herself up to love again. Far too many romance novels are quite cringe-worthy, but Rebecca’s telling of the way Rosie falls for Max (and Ollie) is not sickening at all. Perhaps it is the way she concisely describes the story's events, without jamming too many banal adjectives in to one sentence that does it for me. Or the way she develops her characters through their inner, romantic thoughts rather than cliché raunchy action.
Even though this book is fiction and that I know that fiction is not necessarily supposed mirror real life as it exactly happens, it took me a long time to get over, or wrap my head around the fact that someone like Rosie would just give up everything and suddenly start a life on the road. It is not until later in the book that we learn a little more about Rosie’s past, and one can begin to understand her desperate need to find a way to prove Callum wrong when he says she is turning out like her father. Perhaps if the information about her childhood was presented at an earlier integer, I might have been a little more forgiving of her apparent sudden change in personality. Or perhaps I need to get my nose out of the book, remember it is fiction and not get so caught up in the events of Rosie’s life? I think Rebecca has just done a fantastic job of making me fall for Rosie, like she set out to do in the first place.
Four out of five stars from me – I am off to order some more Rebecca Raisin titles!