The popular 'club' novel has been around for some time now, with several examples including Karen Joy Fowler's The Jane Austen Book Club being adapted into movies based on their great critical reception. Like TJABC, The Vintage Teacup Club follows multiple viewpoints and story lines with the club providing a centre and point of discussion and relief for each of the characters. There is Alison, who is a retro queen with two daughters and a husband, who makes her money through vintage handicrafts- but she is facing the difficulties of raising teenagers-, Maggie who is unlucky in love and Jenny, whose impending marriage has her freaking out about a missing mother. These are the key story lines. For me, this book falls flat because these plots are allowed to take a back seat in comparison to the mission of the club, the finding of 100 vintage tea cups for the group to share.
It is a neat premise. Tea sets and vintage collectables have enjoyed a recent growth in popularity, and I will admit that I was drawn to the cute cover and the promise of an easy, nostalgic read. However, I was disappointed to find that ALL three characters were vintage obsessed, and too similar for it to be a coincidence. To me, it seems like this book was written in an attempt to celebrate an interest in all things twee without any actual intent to explore the deeper concerns of the book. For example, Jenny is haunted by ideas of there being no Mother of the Bride at her party, but when her mother shows up she sends her away, and the only resolution of the tension is provided by a trite letter in the epilogue. And Maggie and Jenny suspect that Alison's husband Pete is cheating on her, but they never say anything and Alison never hints that she knows, and again, there is a line in the epilogue that explains it away. This is a novel with multiple crisis points which are glossed over, and lack dénouement.
Things I did like about this book include its multi-generational view points and its easy, conversational style. IF you're looking for something to read on holidays this year, then you might find this a good book to take along, because it doesn't require too much thinking, and you wouldn't be too upset if you had to leave it behind when your suitcase got too full.
One out of five broken teacups.