on August 4, 2020
Setting: France, U.S.
Vanessa Yu never wanted to see people’s fortunes—or misfortunes—in tea leaves.
Ever since she can remember, Vanessa Yu has been able to see people’s fortunes at the bottom of their teacups. To avoid blurting out their fortunes, she converts to coffee, but somehow fortunes escape and find a way to complicate her life and the ones of those around her. To add to this plight, her romance life is so nonexistent that her parents enlist the services of a matchmaking expert from Shanghai.
When her eccentric aunt, Evelyn, shows up with a tempting offer to whisk her away, Vanessa says au revoir to America and bonjour to Paris. While working at Evelyn’s tea stall at a Parisian antique market, Vanessa performs some matchmaking of her own, attempting to help reconnect her aunt with a lost love. As she learns more about herself and the root of her gifts, she realizes one thing to be true: knowing one’s destiny isn’t a curse, but being unable to change it is.
Vanessa Yu is part of a huge and successful family. She’s an accountant in the family firm. She’s been able to make prophecies since she was a child. She’s also the last of her cousins to be unmarried. All of her aunts are now able to focus their attention on her.
She’s been fighting her prophetic abilities. She refuses to learn from her similarly-gifted aunt. She hates the way that predicting misfortune drives friends away. When she blurts out a prophecy about her cousin’s upcoming divorce – while at that cousin’s wedding – it is decided that she needs to get herself under control.
Her aunt is opening a tea shop in Paris. Vanessa is sent with her to help with the opening and to have time with her to resume the training that she has rejected all her life.
This is a book centered around food. In this family food equals love so we are treated to luscious dinners in California and Paris. There are Chinese wedding banquets, Parisian bakeries, creperies, and bistros. The tea blends described in the book also sound magnificent. I want to try them all.
The family is super controlling but it is written so you can tell that it is coming from a place of caring. This is a family where saying you are dating someone means that a private investigator will be hired immediately. In Vanessa and her aunt Evelyn we see different ways of coping with that. Vanessa leans into it while Evelyn has always maintained her distance. They both learn to bend a little during the course of the story.
There is a touch of magical realism (besides the prophecies). Certain couples are followed by blue butterflies. Flowers fall at romantic moments.
This is a cute book about learning who you are as opposed to who you have been assumed to have been.