Pairing books with tea (Ambition and Desire: The Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte)

On my current TBR shelf (to be read soonest as I’m obsessed with Josephine) is Ambition and Desire: The Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte by Kate Williams. The book chronicles Josephine’s humble beginnings, her rise and her downfall.

Their love was legendary, their ambition flagrant and unashamed. Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife, Josephine, came to power during one of the most turbulent periods in the history of France. The story of the Corsican soldier’s incredible rise has been well documented. Now, in this spellbinding, luminous account, Kate Williams draws back the curtain on the woman who beguiled him: her humble origins, her exorbitant appetites, and the tragic turn of events that led to her undoing.
 
Born Marie-Josèphe-Rose de Tascher de La Pagerie on the Caribbean island of Martinique, the woman Napoleon would later call Josephine was the ultimate survivor. She endured a loveless marriage to a French aristocrat—executed during the Reign of Terror—then barely escaped the guillotine blade herself. Her near-death experience only fueled Josephine’s ambition and heightened her  determination to find a man who could finance and sustain her. Though no classic beauty, she quickly developed a reputation as one of the most desirable women on the continent.
 
In 1795, she met Napoleon. The attraction was mutual, immediate, and intense. Theirs was an often-tumultuous union, roiled by their pursuit of other lovers but intensely focused on power and success. Josephine was Napoleon’s perfect consort and the object of national fascination. Together they conquered Europe. Their extravagance was unprecedented, even by the standards of Versailles. But she could not produce an heir. Sexual obsession brought them together, but cold biological truth tore them apart.
 
Gripping in its immediacy, captivating in its detail, Ambition and Desire is a true tale of desire, heartbreak, and revolutionary turmoil, engagingly written by one of England’s most praised young historians. Kate Williams’s searing portrait of this alluring and complex woman will finally elevate Josephine Bonaparte to the historical prominence she deserves.

When it came time for me to find a tea to pair with this biographical book, I didn’t hesitate in choosing a tea named for an earlier queen, Thé de Marie-Antoinette (Marie-Antoinette tea). It makes for a perfect pairing because the French tea contains rose petals; Josephine cultivated rare roses at her home, Château de Malmaison. I think this tea is a nice homage to Josephine, even if it is named after an earlier queen.

What do we think of this tea pairing? Also, have you read Ambition and Desire or other books about Josephine?

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (How to Read a Dress)

It’s been a minute since we’ve had a book and tea pairing so let’s have another one, shall we? Today’s book is How to Read a Dress by Lydia Edwards.

How to Read a Dress is a fashion history book. It’s a little on the academic site; the author is a lecturer at a university. I’d recommend this book for beginners, so if you have an advanced degree in fashion history or are Michael Kors this book may be too rudimentary for you. But it’s incredibly fun to read. The book has overviews of the eras between the 16th and the 20th century. There are illustrations and photographs galore; a fashion history lover’s dream of a book.

So, which tea shall we have while reading How to Read a Dress? Since fashion was invented in France, we should have a French tea. Specifically Mariage Frères French Breakfast Tea. It’s an elegant black blend that makes for a beautiful cup of tea in the mornings. What do you think?

Happy Reading!

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (Emma)

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Recently I finished reading Emma by Jane Austen. It wasn’t a reread, but a first read. I have to say, I’m not sure whether I’m a fan of Emma. She has a big heart and means well, but I wouldn’t be friends with someone in real life who is such a nosy busybody. Emma just can’t mind her own business. It’s possible she’ll grow on me in the years to come, I don’t know. For now, I must place her at the bottom of my Jane Austen heroine list.

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Now that I have my little rant out of the way, let’s pair a tea with this book. Since weddings seem to be the theme of this novel (as in every Jane Austen novel, of course), I thought it would be fitting if we paired it with Fortnum’s Wedding Breakfast Blend created on the occasion of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding. I had it this morning and it was a delicious cup of tea.

I’d love to know your opinion of Emma.

Happy reading and tea drinking.

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (The Other Bennet Sister)

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Normally I pair tea with books I’ve read. Today is an exception because I haven’t read The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow yet, but I will. I’m currently half-way through Square Haunting and am looking forward to picking up The Other Bennet Sister.

The Other Bennet Sister is about Mary Bennet, “an introvert in a family of extroverts.” Janice Hadlow gives Mary, the sister I’ve always found annoying, a voice in a story that’s over 600 pages long. So it’s definitely a tome to get lost in and forget the troubles around us. And boy do we have a lot of troubles right now. I’m looking forward to reading Mary’s story and getting to know her better.

I’m going to assume, this being a Jane Austen continuation, there is a wedding. If not Mary’s wedding, then at least someone else’s. Fortnum’s Wedding Breakfast Tea would pair well while reading this book. What do you think?

xoxo, Jane

PS. Speaking of tea, if you love tea as much as I do, then stop by my Instagram where I post about tea (and books and flowers).

Pairing books with tea (Persephone Biannually)

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During this anxious time we are living in, I wanted to soothe my spirit and the best way I do that is by organizing my bookshelves. Well, during the organization I re-discovered my old copies of the Persephone Biannually.

If you haven’t read this magazine by Persephone Books, then you are in for a treat. It’s a literary magazine written and published by Persephone Books, a publisher that focuses on republishing forgotten female (and a few male) authors.

The articles in the magazine focus on their authors, the story behind the books and interesting details about their famous endpapers. There is no charge for the magazine (at the time of this writing) and if you are interested in their books, then you can sign up to be added to their mailing list so they can ship the magazine to you.

Today, I’m pairing a tea with this wonderful literary magazine. Which tea shall we pair? How about Harney’s Citrus Blend? It’s a black tea with an orange flavor. Light and citrusy, perfect for an afternoon of magazine reading. Enjoy!

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (The Mistress of Spices)

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I read The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni many moons ago. I was a college student and reading literary novels and essays and the required literary criticism, like all good English majors do. But I was bored and found myself fighting to keep my eyes open after reading yet another western, white male writer. Not that there is anything wrong with reading white male writers. But my life seemed to be consumed by them and I could not relate to any of them or their stories. (Except for the part where they locked themselves away in their studies, you know, those studies that are filled with overflowing floor-to-ceiling bookcases, where they whiled away the hours writing, which I envied.)

I never stopped to think about why it was that I was only given male authors to study and I hope today it’s different at universities across the country. But when I read the first few lines of The Mistress of Spices I realized I was missing something in my life: women writers who wrote interesting stories about the nuances of life and provided a satisfactory happy ending.

The Mistress of Spices is one such book. The main character, Tilo, is trained from birth to understand the magic of the spices. When Tilo’s training is complete, she is ordained as a Mistress of Spices. Tilo is magically transported to Oakland, California where she practices her magic while running a spice shop. Although she is young and beautiful, she is placed inside the body of an elderly woman.

I am a Mistress of Spices. I can work the others too. Mineral, metal, earth and sand and stone. The gems with their cold clear light. The liquids that burn their hues into your eyes till you see nothing else. I learned them all on the island. But the spices are my love.

Through Tilo’s spices, and her new identity inhabiting the body of an elderly woman, she begins to live her destiny, which is to fix the lives of others.

Each chapter is named after a spice. For example, one of the chapters is titled “Fennel” because fennel is the “spice for Wednesdays, the day of averages, of middle-aged people.” Tilo orders a customer in an abusive marriage to take a pinch of fennel, promising her that it will give her mental strength for what she must do. Tilo doesn’t say anything else. After all, no one must know what or who she really is.

One day Tilo meets a man named Raven who looks into her eyes and sees exactly who she really is. Raven knows that she isn’t an old woman and slowly they begin to fall in love with each other.  However, this is against the rules for Tilo and falling in love causes a catastrophe. It’s a wonderful, magical story that has stayed with me all these years.

Which tea shall we pair with this book? I think a chai tea pairs best. Tilo would certainly approve of all the spices that go into this Chai tea by Fortnum & Mason (my favorite purveyor of teas).

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (Let’s Bring Back)

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Descriptions: The Huffington Post’s “Let’s Bring Back…” columnist, Lesley M. M. Blume, invites you to consider whatever happened to cuckoo clocks? Or bed curtains? Why do we have so many “friends” but have done away with the much more useful word “acquaintance”? All of these things, plus hot toddies, riddles, proverbs, corsets, calling cards, and many more, are due for a revival. Throughout this whimsical, beautifully illustrated encyclopedia of nostalgia, Blume breathes new life into the elegant, mysterious, and delightful trappings of bygone eras, honoring the timeless tradition of artful living along the way. Inspired by her much loved column of the same name and featuring entries from famous icons of style and culture, Let’s Bring Back leads readers to rediscover the things that entertained, awed, beautified, satiated, and fascinated in eras past.

Let’s Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By written by Lesley M. M. Blume is a charming encyclopedia of things that should come back in style. Such as bows and curtsies or town criers. I wholeheartedly agree!

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With 240+ pages and clever illustrations of forgotten things, this book is a fun, leisurely read. I recommend reading a few pages over breakfast every day. As such, the tea to pair with this book might be a breakfast tea. I recommend Tokyo Breakfast Tea by Mariage Frères.

Coincidently, one of the things that should come back in style is Tea Time. The author quotes Henry James, “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Ms. Blume ends this entry with a thought, “And yet we’ve swapped it out for dreary Starbucks runs.”

I hope you’ve been well!

xoxo, Jane

 

 

Pairing books with tea (All The Time In The World)

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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.

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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?

xoxo, Jane

Mariage Frères in Tokyo

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Mariage’s fabulous teaware. (If you look closely, you can spot Japan’s famous vending machines.)

I’m back from two weeks of traveling, (one week in Japan and the other week in Palau) though I’m still trying to play catch-up. It’s been harder than I anticipated to get back into the swing of things.

The blog might remain quiet for a while longer, but I did want to quickly share my wonderful afternoon tea experience at Mariage Frères in Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood.

Mariage Frères (Mariage Brothers) is a French tea company, founded in 1854. It’s a luxury brand with locations in Paris, Berlin, London and Tokyo. They have over 500 tea blends!

We visited the Ginza location, which is Tokyo’s uber-chic shopping district, and sat down for their version of afternoon tea.

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The peaceful and beautiful Ginza restaurant.

The restaurant was peaceful and beautifully decorated. I loved the floor tiles and the wall art. I kept looking all around me because I didn’t want to miss any details.

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Time for tea!

I had a savory tea, while my husband opted for scones. It was divine.

I must admit, what I enjoyed the most about our experience (and generally dining in Japan), was the peacefulness of it. You can stay at your table for as long as you want. You don’t actually get the check until you ask for it. This really allowed us to sit and enjoy ourselves for a few hours without feeling as if we had to leave. It was a fabulous experience.

Do you have a favorite tea restaurant? (In England, my favorite place for tea is Fortnum and Mason.)

xoxo, Jane

 

Pairing books with tea (Agnes Moor’s Wild Knight)

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This week’s tea and book pairing is for a very sweet story, Agnes Moor’s Wild Knight by Alyssa Cole. It’s a short love story featuring Agnes Moor, a black woman who has a position at the court of King James IV (Scotland) as the “favorite.” The King and Queen consider her their “exotic.” But Agnes is so much more than just something to show off. She is extremely intelligent, brave, beautiful and poised. She also speaks Gaelic.

This story has it all. There is a jousting tournament, a knight in shining armor (known as “The Wild Knight”) and a happily ever after. This is an interracial romance set in the Scottish Highlands and it’s really a must-read because I don’t know of any other story like it, plus the character Agnes Moor is inspired by a real woman.

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Tea image via Fortnum & Mason.

It was fun to decide which tea to pair with this book. I think Fortnum’s Breakfast Blend goes well with this story because Breakfast Tea was first blended in Edinburgh* and the story is set in Scotland.

Happy Reading!

xoxo, Jane

*Queen Victoria enjoyed drinking this blend during her trips to Scotland and it soon became popular in England.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links. Thank you for supporting my book-loving blog. xoxo, Jane

Fall Favorites

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Today (Labor Day) marks the end of summer in the US, but the truth is that the Washington, D.C. region will have summer weather well into October. Nevertheless, let’s talk about fall favorites.

Here’s what I love about fall:

  1. Wearing cozy sweaters.
  2. Drinking copious amounts of tea (but to be honest, I drink copious amounts of tea year-round).
  3. The canvas of colorful leaves.
  4. Breathing in the crisp morning air during my morning walk to the metro.
  5. Mugs of hot chocolate with whipped cream.
  6. Curling up by the fire with a good book.
  7. Puttering around the house on Saturday mornings.
  8. The anticipation of the festive season (I love, love, love the festive season and will be blogging about it this winter).
  9. Freshly baked bread (I use a no-knead recipe).
  10. Wearing fun tights.

Do you have a fall season in your neck of the woods? If yes, what are you looking forward to the most?

xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (Lessons from Madame Chic)

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Lessons from Madame Chic is a stylish and uplifting memoir of living an inspired life. It’s the first book in a three-book series. The overarching theme throughout the series is to enjoy the very best, every day.

I really love this series. For example, one of the lessons is to employ quality over quantity. It’s better to have a ten-item wardrobe of quality items than 100 poorly-made pieces that won’t last a couple cycles in the wash. A really good lesson, I think.

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So, which tea would pair well here? Well, there is only one tea I would pair with this stylish book and that would be my absolute favorite tea, Fortnum’s Countess Grey. I’d say Countess Grey is all about enjoying the very best, every day.

What do you think of this pairing?

Also, in case you missed it, my review of Madame Chic can be found here.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links. Thank you for supporting my book-loving blog. xoxo, Jane