Friday, August 26, 2016

Book Review: Honey for Tea

Title: Honey for Tea

Author: Elizabeth Cadell

Date: 1962

Publisher: William Morrow

ISBN: none

Length: 190 pages

Quote: “‘Has anybody proposed to you?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘And you said?’ ‘No.’ ‘Why? Are you sure you’re not leaving it too long? You’re going on for twenty-five.’”

During the years when Elizabeth Cadell was one of Britain’s most successful authors of young adult novels, that was about all teen readers expected in the way of a plot, although the blurbs promised parents that her stories also delivered “a proper moral at the end.” Nobody expects Jendy, the sister who’s going on for twenty-five, or Nancy, twenty-seven, to have serious life goals other than marrying suitable property owners. They’re reasonably attractive upper-middle-class young women, and they’re in England, so what else would they do? The question is whom they’ll marry.

Moral? In 1962, it counted as a moral if the heroine doesn’t sleep around and thus gets married at the end, but Honey for Tea offers more in the way of a moral than that. In the course of this story the Marsh sisters and their aunt, who frets about not having a male heir, discover a lovable relative who’s been cheated in many ways because his parents weren’t Properly Married, and bring him around to the idea of “settling” into a proper house and marriage.

None of Cadell’s novels was ever a great favorite of mine, but novels aren’t my favorite kind of books anyway; a lot of people all around the world enjoyed them as new books, and they’ll certainly enliven any time of predictable boredom, commuting, convalescence, etc. These days, they’re even a nice nostalgia trip for baby-boomers, or a pain-free history lesson for the younger generation. 

And are they ever increasing in value as the original library copies begin to wear out. Check out those Amazon prices! What I physically own is a hardcover library copy, which I'll physically sell for less than $95, but if you want a hardcover copy that's where the prices start. If you just want to read the story, send $25 per book + $5 per package for the paperback edition. (As always, the $5 shipping charge covers as many books as fit into the package--one to three more of this approximate size.)