Joanna Nell has taken the grey and dreary out growing old and created a range of books around the idiosyncrasies associated with, let’s face it, growing up. The Tea Ladies of St Jude is her fourth book which shines a light on what is considered as family and what it is to make a friend, regardless of who you are, or your age.
Hillary and Nancy are siblings with the full range of sibling rivalries still alive and well, even though they are now well into their older years. Hillary married an entrepreneur and lived a life of wealth and privilege, whereas Nancy stayed at home, faced a failed love affair, looked after their parents and helped run their father’s business.
The anchor of Hillary’s life is her position at St Jude’s as the manager of the tea shop within the hospital, which has a proud record of fundraising for those essential extras, always required to brighten the life of the patients and their families.
Joy is the assistant who is as flamboyant in her approach as Hillary is traditional, which often causes conflict between the two, but as volunteers are hard to attract Hillary appreciates she is lucky to have any help at all. A new volunteer is due to commence at the Tea Shop, who is a daughter of a resident St Jude’s Doctor.
Chloe arrives in flamboyant a style of dress as Joy, just many years’ younger. She has her own personal demons to overcome, the main one is she does not want to be a Doctor like her brother and sister and parents, she wants desperately to become a photographer, go to art school and do anything that does not involve blood or bodily fluids in any way.
The Tea Shop forms the basis for an unlikely friendship to be formed, a cause to be fought for and a huge understanding that life is to be lived, letting go has to happen and sometimes, standing up for what you believe in, is the only way forward.
One of the true joys of reading Joanna Nell’s work is that her characters are all so very real: in each one of the people in this book, from the tea ladies, the patients, the staff and the people who come into the Tea Shop, there is someone to whom we can all relate or have within our own family units.
Heartwarming, funny, poignant with a thoroughly entertaining plot The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital is a true feel good story based in the power of love, acceptance, kindness, and believing in yourself, even if it does come a little later on in life.