Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim was a cute read. It is set in Paris and has a great sense of magical realism. Forewarning though, this is not a book that you’re going to want to read on an empty stomach – the descriptions of the food in Paris might make you just as hungry as it made me! Unfortunately, for a book set in such a romantic setting, the romance of the book did not sit well with me.
Vanessa Yu has the unique ability to tell a person’s fortune by reading the tea leaves at the end of a cup of tea. This is not a power that she wants especially since when she usually reads an individuals tea leaves she has a tendency to drop unexpected or heartbreaking news on them. She has done everything she can to avoid it but the power refuses to be ignored so she moves to Paris with fellow tea leaf reader Aunt Evelyn who agrees to help her harness her abilities. While in Paris, Vanessa encounters several unique characters and situations all of which help her grow and discover who she is really meant to be inside.
Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop contains beautiful imagery both of the streets of Paris as well as the ties that bind the characters inside the story. As I mentioned, I really enjoyed the magical realism aspect of the story – the fortune telling using the tea leaves and the red threads that Vanessa could see and had to learn to understand. I loved how the red threads brought the unsuspecting people together; and helped create the journey that Vanessa was on for self discovery. In a way, she even had red ties back to her loved ones at home who were always checking in on her and making sure that she was alright.
That being said I did not like the romantic connections that were created using the red threads for Vanessa and Aunt Evelyn. For Vanessa, it is a stranger that she meets while in Paris. There are several bumps and misunderstandings for them and their connection felt insta-love to me and I just didn’t feel a pull to root for them even in such a beautiful setting. Similarly, Aunt Evelyn reconnects with an old flame while in Paris, and there are some events which are triggered by xenophobia of Evelyn’s new tea shop that make her love connection with the old flame hard to digest. Maybe it was just me but, it was hard for me to support him and their connection when he was partially responsibly for the treatment that she received.
All in all, I enjoyed delving into the aspect of clairvoyance in the Chinese culture through Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop. The author, Roselle Lim does an excellent job of bridging the connections between the characters with intermittent descriptions of the scenery and delicious food. I only wish that I could have been able to delve into and enjoy the romance as well.
Rating: 3 Stars