"My Turn To Make The Tea"

My Turn To Make The Tea by Monica Dickens

This is an author I was completely unaware of until I started blogging. I was surprised and excited to find out she is the great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens. You can't go wrong with writing genes like that. I've read lots of glowing reviews of Ms. Dickens' books and was lucky enough to find "My Turn To Make The Tea" at the library. Could a book have a better title? I think not.

This book is autobiographical, not fiction, and I had to keep reminding myself of that as I read. The book is peopled with strange and wonderful characters who sound as though they've been made up, but have not. I've always wondered if writers who put such eccentricity into the people who inhabit their stories have more interesting real people in their lives than the rest of us have, but I've decided that's not the case. I think it's simply that some people are more observant than others and they take more notice of the quirky, the comical and the strange that goes on around them. Writers like Monica Dickens have an appreciation for 'off-the-wallness'. I know it's not a word. Don't judge me. People with that ability can write great stories about even the most mundane things. 

Personal memoirs are a favorite genre of mine and this one did not disappoint. It covers the years of Dickens' life when she lived in a boarding house and worked at a newspaper office as a rookie journalist. She has that gift of seeing the humorous in everyday things, and playing up the quirkiness of her colleagues and house-mates, she gives us a lively and amusing look at that period in her life.

I like that Dickens doesn't overwrite things. She tells a story and then gives the reader the freedom to "get it" or not. I love dry humor and wry wit; I do not like slapstick. Humor for me needs to be subtle; actually that holds true with drama and everything else as well. I would like Dan Brown's books more if there was even a hint of subtlety anywhere. 

There were, I think, three different places in the book where offensive language is used. I don't enjoy that, but there were only those three and it didn't ruin the book for me. I have to say though, finding "language" was a bit disconcerting. It didn't matter how often I told myself this was Monica and not Charles, I still fell back into considering it a "Dickens" book and measuring it against that. Her English may be a bit less fastidious than his was, but she certainly does have that same ability to pour a human being onto the page that Charles had. Brilliant.

My favorite line: "The lady was in the downstairs office, pacing the linoleum in a threatening hat."  This was on the opening page and once I read it I was hooked.

I've put her other books on my tbr list and look forward to reading them. I'm expecting  they will be, like this one, character driven rather than plot driven. If you like that style and you haven't yet had the opportunity to try this author, you really are missing out. I can recommend "My Turn To Make The Tea" as a cleverly written and very entertaining read.


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