With a bundle of roses in one hand and a walking cane in the other, an elderly gentleman, Lawrence Gray braves the Northeastern winter as he makes his way to Saint James Cemetery. There, he offers the flowers to his fallen wife, who passed away forty years ago. Lawrence�s devotion to his long-dead wife elicits curiosity from Meg Bailey, an intrigued neighbor who spies on him from her kitchen window every morning. Meg�s curiosity hits a peak when town historian, Fanny Brund, invites her for afternoon tea, and tells her about the mystery surrounding the Grays. Looking for more answers, Fanny warps back to the year 1895 in a bid to uncover the truth behind Lawrence Gray�s guilt over his wife�s untimely death � only to unravel a secret that will change Meg�s life forever. . .
For more information on "Afternoon Tea" visit www.jrlagreca.com. BOOK REVIEWS
Jody Riva La Greca�s inspiration for writing Afternoon Tea is her passion for the Victorian Age. She says, "human nature is timeless, and reveals the same dimension of emotion and intrigue in any era".
Her novel is about love, struggle, and differences of the haves and have-nots in society taking place in the year 1895. The setting is beautifully detailed in and around New England�s picturesque towns. The plights of the characters were difficult at the turn of the century and you are enthralled by the descriptive prose laying them bare.
Lawrence Gray, 83, visits the grave of his beloved wife Emily, where he places red roses every Sunday even though she had died 40 years before. A neighbor, Meg Bailey, continuously watches him from her kitchen window and is intrigued by his devotion. Fanny Brund, the town historian, invites Meg to her home for tea and goes back to 1895 where she seeks the truth about Emily Gray�s untimely death. She looks to uncover a secret that may change Meg�s life.
Descriptions of a debutante ball, a devious �red lady�, and an old-fashioned wedding are all beautifully depicted. This was an interesting historical time when medicine was quite primitive and "tinctures" were mysterious potions which magically healed.
La Greca brilliantly develops her characters to be graceful and elegant when manners were boundless, dress was significantly important, and the adventures of all classes were intriguing. The struggles of the poor are tremendous and the lives of the rich are full of imagery.
This could be a modern day portrayal relating to challenges of success and the rewards of unwavering devotional love. Even though this is a by-gone era, the book enchants you from beginning to end. The author laces a romantic triangle that will tug at your heart with a surprise ending. J. R. LaGreca has captured the Victorian Era exquisitely, like a fine painting or a glass of aged wine.
J. R. La Greca also is an award-winning poet and ends her book with A Grain of Sand, a poem dedicated to her sister.
A must read for the amorous romantic. ---Clark�s Eye on Books, by Clark Isaacs. News Blaze, Kingman Daily Miner, Affaire De Coeur Magazine, Desert Independent, and Midwest Book Review in its April edition
AFTERNOON TEA by J. R. LaGreca is set in New England in the late 1800s. The details for the setting add much to the flavor of the story as it winds around the quaint villages of that area, many of which can still be visited today. AFTERNOON TEA is a romantic tale of class struggle in that era between the upper and lower class citizens.
As the story opens, 83-year-old Lawrence Gray is spied on by Meg Bailey from her kitchen window as he visits his wife�s grave every day. His wife who had died about 40 years earlier is buried within Meg�s view and she becomes quite fascinated by the love and attention Gray still has for his wife after all these years. Would someone love Meg enough to bring her roses every day?
Meg becomes quite inquisitive about why Gray does this and so she pays a visit to Fanny Brund. Fanny is the keeper of the town�s secrets, the town historian one might call her. When Meg inquires, Brund invites her over for a cup of tea and so that afternoon, Meg learns of the wonderful love that Lawrence Gray and Emily Reed had for each other. Fanny takes Meg back to the time of Emily�s death and hints at what might have been a somewhat suspicious death.
Meg decides that she must discover what the secret is that has lain dormant all these years and so searches for answers to her questions. Little does Meg know that what she finds out may change her own life forever.
As Meg �goes back in time� she finds that it was still a time when medicine and medical care were very archaic and strange potions were thought to cure things almost by magic. LaGreca shows a great deal of research in this part of the story including how things looked such as every young woman�s special time when she would come out at a debutante ball. The description of the traditional and conservative wedding of that time is written with such wonderful detail that readers will feel like they are at the affair.
The clothing, customs, and manners of that time period come to life with LaGreca�s words and whether the rich or the poor are being described, one still can tell what it was like and thus gets a very real pictorial comparison of class struggle during that era.
What the reader finds out is that this was not just the simple time it might appear to be. A passionate 3 way love affair takes place that will surprise you as we would not think something like that would take place back in those days. Meg discovers that Lawrence�s precious Emily is set up by her father, Philip Reed, in a not unusual for the time arranged marriage�but not to Lawrence but rather to a promising young man by the name of Sir Dexter Lund. Lund is a lawyer with a good career ahead of him unlike poor Lawrence who has no education and therefore, no way to care for Reed�s daughter, Emily. At least in his eyes, not the way she would be cared for.
Unexpectedly, Lawrence is able to follow Emily to the home where she is now staying with her betrothed�s family. And so, to be near her, Lawrence is forced to become the beau of Lund�s sister, Mallory. In your imagination, you can think of many possibilities of where this would all lead, but which one is correct? How, if at all, does Meg fit into any of this? How did Lawrence finally wind up married to his beloved Emily whose grave he visits daily? What part did the medical care of that time have to play in all this? How this story ends and why it is such a satisfying read are what keep you turning the pages until the very last one. Is the ending what you think it will be or is there a twist and surprise you never see coming? This is what you will find out when you read and enjoy as I did, AFTERNOON TEA by J. R. LaGreca. ---Bingo, teacher, writer & reviewer
The story begins at a cemetery outside a church in Clinton Connecticut. A young woman named Meg Bailey observes Lawrence Gray, an older gentleman with a cane, struggles to reach a gravesite. The grave bears testament to the fact that he visits every day- it is covered in roses.
As Meg asks around to determine the source of Lawrence's devotion, a fellow church goers tells her that essentially Lawrence is doing penance because he feels responsible for his wife's death. The church goer tells Lawrence's story over a cup of afternoon tea...
The story begins in 1895. William and Lawrence Gray )father and son) were traveling through New England looking for employment after William sold his farm. William decides to look up his old (affluent) school chum, Philip Reed. Philip readily agrees to hire the pair and welcomes the duo into his house like family. Philip has a daughter, Emily. Right away we see that Emily and Lawrence take to each other. Emily feels Lawrence is the only person with whom she can talk. Ah, yes. Enter the conflict.
The pair are clearly from opposite sides of the track. Back in the Victorian times, young ladies weren't necessarily allowed to marry the man they loved, not unless they fell in love with a man of great fortune. Generally, that's whom their parents would have wished them to marry. Anyway, the pair begin to fall in love, but they are discovered as we suspected that they would be.
The pair find themselves victims of forces that they cannot control. Lawrence and his father find their station at the Reed's reduced to servants. Emily is forced into a relationship with a man that she does not like. She's sent to meet the man's family. Surprisingly, Lawrence is invited to go along as an artist to paint Emily's intended family.
I won't tell you more of the story, but I will say that the pair go through a lot before they end up together. Even when they end up together, their lives are not smooth. Ah! Where are the men like Lawrence today? What an upright, courteous, and honorable man. I tell you, they don't make them like that any more!!
I really enjoyed this book. I know this will surprise those of you who have been around my blog for a while, especially those who saw my Valentine's Day post. I'm not the most romantic person in the world. But this was an excellent read. In fact, I sat down and read it in an evening. What I really liked about this book was the authenticity. The author mentions on the back cover of her book that she has an affinity with the Victorian Age. It came through loud and clear in the book. For example, the author mentions the book The Mystery of Love Courtship and Marriage Explained. This book does exist. It was written by Henry J. Wehman and published in 1890 by the Wehman brothers. The book offered advise and lessons to help men and women succeed in love. I ran an internet search and found out that little tidbit. I�m going to have to hit up some used bookstores to see if I can't get my hands on a copy of this book. I'm familiar with a similar book called The Language of Flowers, which taught men and women to communicate by flower arrangements. No I'm not kidding. The sexes were restricted in talking with each other, so they thought up some pretty ingenious ways of communicating.
Rated L for Love it!
J.R. LaGreca is an award-winning poet and internationally published writer in magazines and anthologies. Her book, "Afternoon Tea� (Xlibris $19.99 paperback, $29.99 hardcover), was inspired by her emotional affinity with literary masterpieces of the Victorian Age. The novel is set in Newport, Rhode Island and Salem, Mass. In 1895, Lawrence Gray and his father, William, are traveling the New England countryside in search of work when they come upon the Reed Estate. Philip Reed and William Gray were boyhood buddies, and the Grays are hired to work on the estate. Lawrence soon becomes friends with the daughter, Emily Reed. The Grays are invited to Emily�s debutante ball, and it becomes apparent Emily is set to marry a local bachelor of good standing, Sir Dexter Lund. As Lawrence continues his poetry reading and painting with Emily, he develops his aspirations to become a pharmacist and a doctor. After the wedding of Sir Dexter to Emily is announced, Sir Dexter convinces Lawrence he must marry his sister, Mallory, in a double ceremony. Lawrence agrees to the wedding only to remain on the estate and be near Emily.
The author brings the extended family relations of deep emotions to an exciting end after a moving story covering 40 years of turmoil. The descriptive writing is well-suited to Victorian Age customs and accoutrements.
---NEWSWOK:THE OKLAHOMAN by Russ Long
"Afternoon Tea" is like walking onto a painting, a wondrous escape to a magnificently alive "other time" with exquisite, meticulously researched details interlaced throughout the complex and extreme fates of the main characters. Scattered throughout the ethereal romantic story is fascinating imagery of the clothes, literature, etiquette, and surprising inventions of the Victorian Era, which enhanced the sensation of really being there. My favorite revelations were the ultra-detailed precious "keepsakes" created by "the girls" (admirers and friends) ... totally inspiring! Especially today when crafts are taking center stage and the steampunk movement is still emerging. "Afternoon Tea" allowed me to peak at love, life, fate, and paradox through another window ...
I found Afternoon Tea to be a wonderful book to read! If you are a true romantic this book is for you! Old fashioned story telling from 1895, New England; this book offers romantic, and mystery. A love story with a surprise ending you would not want to miss. You will feel like you are part of this era, learning about historical times. Very romantic with a triangle love story that ends in more modern times. Romance and devotion are not lost! I hope you will enjoy the poetic writing and story telling of Jody La Greca as I did.
Afternoon Tea is a light romance set in the Victorian New England countryside of the late 1800�s. The story opens when Meg Bailey witnesses an ongoing ritual from her kitchen window of an old man bringing roses to his wife�s graveside. Meg�s curiosity gets the better of her and she seeks out the help of the town historian, Fanny Brund for answers. Who is this man? Why does he visit the cemetery everyday? Fanny invites Meg over for a cup of tea that very afternoon and reveals to her the love story of Lawrence Gray and Miss Emily Reed. Theirs is a love that cannot be fulfilled as Emily�s father, Philip Reed believes that an arranged marriage with a promising young lawyer, Sir Dexter Lund is a more suitable match than with Lawrence, a young man with little education and no means of supporting his daughter. There is a turn of events and Lawrence is able to follow Emily, his only true love to her soon to be home with the Lund family. Once there though he unfortunately finds himself obligated to become a suitor to Miss Mallory Lund, sister of his true love�s fianc�....
---Merry Weather "Beve"