Little Tea is a dual time line saga set in the American Deep South. Three school friends reunite for a long weekend; Renny invited Celia to help Ava who was having doubts about her marriage. They spent their time at Renny’s lake house and alternated between advising Ava and remembering their teenage years from the 1980s. Sometimes they dipped into moments of light-hearted comedy, and these were always fun.
While the friends were growing up, Celia Wakefield’s family owned a cotton farm near Memphis. Celia’s best friend was Little Tea, the daughter of the farm manager and his wife who was the family housekeeper. The deep rooted racial prejudices in the South were still strong for some and sadly this linked to a family tragedy, and since that time Celia never fully resolved her feelings about it.
This book pulled me straight into the setting with beautifully descriptive writing which had me placing myself right next to the characters and seeing, hearing and smelling the scenery. The dialogue was full of Southern language which suited this story and helped to make this feel like a full three dimensional experience.
I liked Little Tea; she was such a wise character, full of deep rooted superstition one moment, yet still determined to leave the inhibiting South behind and make something of her life. I also enjoyed all the banter between her and Celia; their childhood friendship was a delight.
There are a couple of twists and turns on the way to the denouement and although I guessed the ending, I wasn’t ready to believe it; I wanted just a little more explanation about how events led to the final reveal.
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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.