This lovely debut novel combines the lives of three different women as they meet by chance and form firm friendships. Jenny is our first person narrator; she is browsing at a car boot sale in Charlesworth, an old market town in Sussex, and we share her delight when she happens upon precisely the items she has been searching for, a vintage teaset. Just at that moment, two other women swoop in who are equally as interested in the very same items. The three women decide to share the teaset, each making use of it in turn for their own special purposes, and from this unique beginning, their stories unfold.
Jenny is looking forward to her forthcoming marriage to Dan. As her plans move forwards, she is thrown by the sudden unexpected contact from a woman who has played no part in her life for many years, and she worries that her happiness could be damaged. Maggie is a strong, independent career woman, forging ahead after the disappointment of her failed marriage and Alison appears at first sight to be a happily married woman with two daughters, but things are never as straightforward as they might seem, for any of them.
One of the aspects I liked about the main characters in this novel is that the women are not all the same age, and they have different experiences of life. This brings an interesting dimension to their relationships with each other, across the generations. It was lovely to read how such a strong, supportive bond develops between the friends, and this friendship that forms isn't affected by this difference in their ages, for example when they share exciting news with each other; `A twenty-year age gap made no difference to our levels of girlish excitement.'
A favourite part of the narrative for me involves the history of the teaset and culminates with a perceptive comment which is made about life and love, how `As you get older you see that what you thought were little things, why they were really the big things all along.'
This is a sparkling debut novel. I really enjoyed reading it. It is an easy, engaging read with likeable characters, between whom a lovely, believable and supportive friendship grows. The characters develop and the women support and encourage each other to follow their dreams and be successful and happy. When times are tough and romance, family or careers are getting them down, they are there for each other to share the pain, and they celebrate this: `To new friends, a port in the storm.' Vanessa Greene paints a lovely portrait of female friendship across the generations. I would definitely look out for and look forward to the next novel by this author. I love the beautiful, attractive and very fitting cover design.
All that really remains to be said is for the prospective reader to settle back with a good cuppa (preferably in a pretty tea cup) and read all about these ladies and their ups and downs revolving around vintage teacups!