Teatime For The Firefly
Title: Teatime for the Firefly
By: Shona Patel
Genre: fiction historical
Summary: Teatime for the Firefly by Shona Patel is a historical fiction novel that takes place in the 1940’s in India. We follow Layla who was raised to be educated and encouraged to form her own thoughts and opinions which are against social norms for females. Layla gets married to the charismatic tea planter, Manik Deb and journeys through the tea plantations of Assam, India.
Thoughts after reading the book: It was interesting learning about the historical development of the tea plantations. The British made a bargain with the Ahom kings by offering protection against invaders in return for developing a tea industry in Assam. During this time, the demand for fine tea was booming and so were tea plantations. Assam tea was desirable and their seeds would only seem to grow on Assam land. The tea was exported and shipped overseas, meanwhile the tea sold in Indian Markets was nothing more than tea dust, the lowest grade.
Nobody knew much about tea plantations. It was an esoteric, colonial world barricaded by a cultural divide, so far removed from the life in our teeming Indian subcontinent that it may as well have been several stratospheres away.
Life on the tea plantations was pretty intense and planners devoted their lives to the work. The men signed marriage agreements which stated that they couldn’t marry until after 3 years of working, there were “Aunties” or prostitutes to fulfill the sex drive of the tea planters, they were on 24/7 with inconsistent sleep and they had frequent encounters with wildlife.
There was little plot to this novel and was slow for me the last ½ of the book, but I enjoyed Patel’s writing and my favorite part of the book was the love story between Layla and Manik. I loved how they met, courted and grew as a couple. They both loved each other for who they were, strong- minded Layla and adventurous Manik.
I look forward to reading more of Patel’s work!
Paired with the book is the Ito En Organic Assam Black Tea. No tea dust today! This full leaf black tea has an earthy aroma and full body, malty flavor. Steep 2 tsp of tea in 8oz of 212 degree water for 3-5 minutes and enjoy!
- Maya & The Spine Down