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Review: Ida Mae Tutweiler and the Traveling Tea Party

Ida Mae Tutweiler and the Traveling Tea Party is a captivating story about love and tea. It is told from the point of view of the titular character, Ida Mae, a divorcee grandmother living in Ohio. As the story opens she is waiting for her best friend since she was 10 years old, Jane, to arrive for tea. Jane and Ida Mae have always been complete opposites--Ida Mae being the quiet homebody and Jane the bustling actress. But their friendship works. They complete each other, perhaps more than the various lovers and spouses that entered the two women's lives over the decades. In this first scene we learn some devastating news: that Jane has cancer and has only a few weeks left.

From there the narrative shifts between flashbacks in the form of Ida Mae's journal entries and the present during the last days Ida Mae and Jane have together. From Ida Mae's past journal entries we see the start of her friendship with Jane and her years in high school with her first boyfriend. Marriage and a daughter follow. In these life changing events both in past and present, one thing stays constant: the enduring connection between the two women and tea.

If you are a tea drinker, as interested in the ceremony as the drink, then you are in for a special treat--"Tea Party" isn't in the name of the book for nothing! The appendix includes several recipes for sweet treats for the tea table as featured in the book. Another treat is an introduction and epilogue in which author Ginnie Bivona chronicles her experiences from when the book was turned into a Hallmark movie, Bound By a Secret. The meta-story behind the story gives this book a personal touch, nicely enveloping the narrative into something you won't soon forget.

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