I’ve been making an effort to read more short stories. They pack a punch in just a few short pages. I’m left thinking and rethinking about the plot for days after I finish the story. Tea with Mr. Rochester is one such short story collection.
When I think of Mr. Rochester, I think of the character from Jane Eyre. If that’s who you thought of too, then you can probably guess the common theme of each story in this collection: love. Most of the stories don’t necessarily end happily. Or maybe they do, depending on your view. The beauty of a short story is that it doesn’t tell you how or what to think. You are left thinking and analyzing for days afterwards.
Take for example, the sixth story in this collection, Spade Man from over the Water. It takes place inside the drawing room of a married woman, Mrs. Penny, who is entertaining her new neighbor. The new neighbor, Mrs. Asher, hopes she can become good friends with Mrs. Penny. All we know at this point is that Mrs. Penny has a husband who travels often. He seems to never be in the picture. Her husband discourages Mrs. Penny from having friends, but she yearns for the friendship of women. Mrs. Asher and her children move into the cottage near Mrs. Penny. She too has a husband who travels a lot. When Mrs. Asher sees a picture of Mrs. Penny’s husband she grows quiet and mysterious. They end the evening proclaiming they will become good friends. But that never happens, much to the disappointment of Mrs. Penny. The cottage is emptied virtually overnight. Mrs. Asher and her children disappear, never to be heard of again.
This ending left me stumped. The only solution that I can come up with is that Mrs. Penny’s husband leads a double life with Mrs. Asher. This might be why Mrs. Asher disappears after seeing the photograph of Mrs. Penny’s husband.
For this short story collection, I’d pair Fortnum’s Fortmason tea. The tea is black, strong and heavily infused with orange blossoms. You’ll need a strong tea to get through some of these (very excellent, some sweet, some bizarre) short stories.
All The Time In The World by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins is inspired by the medieval book of hours. According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, a book of hours is a “devotional book widely popular in the later Middle Ages. The book of hours began to appear in the 13th century, containing prayers to be said at the canonical hours in honour of the Virgin Mary. The growing demand for smaller such books for family and individual use created a prayerbook style enormously popular among the wealthy. The demand for the books was crucial to the development of Gothic illumination. These lavishly decorated texts, of small dimensions, varied in content according to their patrons’ desires.”
All The Time In The World, complete with whimsical drawings and filled with fascinating anecdotes and witty articles, is meant for reflection and leisurely enjoyment. The entries are to be read slowly, with the passing seasons.
The more than seventy-five articles are cleverly divided by the hour of the day. The first article (6:00 AM) is about the circus and the last article (5:00 AM) is about the songbirds waking you up at dawn. Fitting.
I’d pair an herbal tea with this book. Particularly Twinings Buttermint. Sipping a nice, steaming cup of herbal tea is perfect while leisurely reading the entries.
So let me ask you this, which drink would you pair with your current read?
I’ve talked about Fortnum & Mason before here and here. But today I want to talk about my favorite Fortnum’s tea.
The English-speaking world divides roughly into two main camps – one camp swears by tea, the other coffee. Occasionally, each camp swears at the other. At Fortnum’s we maintain a strict neutrality. Here harmony reigns – for here you will find the best of both worlds.
Fortnum’s The Cook Book
My favorite Fortnum’s tea (and probably favorite tea in general) is Countess Grey. It’s delicious, citrusy and airy. It goes well with a little bit of sugar and a little bit of milk.
I’m a huge tea snob and will not drink tea if the water is not boiled. I’ve learned to stay away from tea in most American restaurants because they use hot water instead of water that’s boiled. Yes, I can tell the difference. I told you I was a tea snob.
Fortnum & Mason instructions: For every cup you wish to make, add a rounded teaspoon of leaves to your pot. Add freshly-boiled water, brew for 3-5 minutes, place your strainer over your cup and pour. For tea bags, simply brew in your cup for 3-5 minutes, remove and enjoy.