The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery. Although there were elements of humor in this book- it wasn’t funny. So, I’m a bit out of my depth in evaluating it. Please forgive me for trying to be eloquent.
This book was stunning and yet quietly beautiful. Reading it was like participating in the tea ceremony that was a central theme of the book. At times it was beautiful, structured, painful, refreshing, dreamlike, breathtaking, and haunting. The story follows Aurelia/Urako as her entire life is transplanted from France to New York to Japan in the 1860′s-1890′s. The historical events of Japan at a time when they opened their world to the West are both central and secondary. Most important, is the story of Aurelia/Urako’s life and what it means to be accepted as well as what it means to be foreign. There are times in this book when it seems that every character surrounding her life is cruel and yet there is always a faint undercurrent of hope that one, just one, has a kind heart. And you aren’t disappointed- there are moments of quiet but brilliant kindness. One moment your heart is shattered by a brilliantly written scene of quiet cruelty and the next it’s mended by another brilliantly written scene of understated kindness and hope. There is a balance to this book that exactly mirrors the balance that should be present in a perfectly made cup of tea. And as a tea enthusiast myself, the overall feeling I have after reading this book is very similar to the feeling I have after enjoying an immaculate, delicious, and lingering pot of green tea. I guess what I’m trying to say, albeit very poorly, is that I enjoyed this book very much and I think you should read it.
Ok- I’ll stop humiliating myself by attempting to be eloquent. I promise to be funny again tomorrow.