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Tea

3.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  318 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
This is the story of Isabel Gold, whose suburban youth is interrupted by her mother's suicide. Torn by love, anger and sorrow, Isabel grows up trying to understand her mother. Attracted to the theatre, Isabel falls in love with Rebecca, stage manager of an avant garde theatre group.
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Published October 1st 2000 by Women's Press (UK) (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 647)
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Amanda
Mar 20, 2009 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amanda by: I saw it on the shelf @ the library and curiosity took over
Shelves: 2009
I am sitting cross-legged on the floor of my living room, sipping tea out of a mug with a farm scene on the front--a barn and a silo and green fields and a farmhouse, canopied by huge, beautiful night stars. It is my third cup of the day and has gone cold twice already. To me, this tea is a thing of permanence. A reminder of my father before me and his mother before him, and I suspect it will be a reminder of me to my children, if ever they are to be born. I have no memory of tea tasting new and ...more
Sps
It's still historical fiction if it's set in the '60s through '80s, yeah? Hiphuggers and Jane Fonda. Smoking indoors.

Other literary novelists were enchanted by this, at least according to the book jacket, but I found it heavy and self-conscious. I could name half a dozen traits assigned to Isabel, the protagonist, but at the end of the book realized I still didn't know her at all. The prose was dull, with occasional weak 'writerly' effects like repeating phrases. The coming of age plot held no
...more
Heidi Gonzalez
Tea is a very strange novel. Broken down in Morning, Afternoon and Evening it tells pieces of the life of Isabel Gold. The beginning of the book deals with her family, her strange, and depressed mother, her born again best friend who calls God on her shoe phone as they re-enact scenes from Get Smart and her realization that she is frightened that her mothers mood will wear off on her if she touches her. The middle of the book deals with Isabel's coming of age, realizing that she is a lesbian and ...more
Teresa
May 02, 2015 Teresa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition



(Pt1) Morning; Isabel the Child. This was my favorite part of the book. I cared for young Isabel, I enjoyed her emotional life and the outside world she was reacting to. The writing was stunning, if maybe with a few too many similies for my taste.
That said I could buy the book only to re-read this section of the book. It was moving and haunting in that not much really needed to be said. (4 stars)

(Pt2) Afternoon; Isabel the Teenager. Entertaining enough, convincing in terms of teenage emotionalit
...more
Nathan Burgoine
This book is a bit of a mixed bag. I liked it, let me say that before anything else, but I can see how many wouldn't. It is character driven to the point of being nearly plot-less, so if you're looking for some sort of complete story, it isn't here.

The tale follows the life of Isabel whose mother almost in passing, expresses a death wish. When Isabel's mother then commits suicide shortly thereafter, it spins Isabel's life in a new direction. Alternately free and flighty, grounded and lost, Isabe
...more
Marvin
Aug 11, 2009 Marvin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This one had no discernible plot in the first 75 pages; it was just preoccupied with trivial details of domestic dysfunction.
Danielle Cooke
Nov 02, 2014 Danielle Cooke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“‘You know, Isabel,’ she said, ‘sometimes I want to die.’

Isabel retied a shoelace, light-headed. The room seemed to get brighter for an instant, then faded to normal again. Maybe that was a sunspot. The sea roiled as the sunspot blazed, overturning a ship sailing over the sea past the farm where she and Ann lived. ‘Why?’ she said, staring at the sea.

Isabel’s mother pressed her long fingers into the corners of her eyes, squeezed her eyes shut, shaking her head. ‘I just do,’ she said. ‘I just want
...more
Linda
May 29, 2009 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Linda by: heard about her 3rd novel on NYTBR podcast 1-28-09
Shelves: clcpl
I had no prior knowledge of this author. I heard a laudatory New York Times Book Review podcast of Ms. D'Erasmo's third book. I decided to start with her first book. The book is the coming of age story of Isabella Gold told in three sections: Morning, Afternoon, Evening and the three different girl friends who are close to Isabella at the respective time. In the beginning, Isabella is observes her mother and the obvious unhappiness the former actress suffers from. After her mother's suicide, Isa ...more
Carrie Vaughn
When I started this book, I was deeply reminded of some of the games I used to play with childhood friends, a game played with the son of family friends and games I still wish, in a way, I could play. The book seemed to progress from the mind of the child to the adolescent to the young adult and the language flowed along with it, which was both comforting and unsettling at the same time. There were times I was pulled from the book when the timeline and chronology seemed off (which, with research ...more
Evan
Feb 25, 2012 Evan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book felt kind of vague to me. Although it was a little over 300 pages it could've been shorter. Nothing really happened. The main character, Isabel, I didn't really get a good idea of. The book focuses on her life at three separate times: 8, 16, & 22. At 8, her mother commits suicide and this of course makes a lasting impression on her. At 16, she joins a theater troupe and has a crush on the stage manager Rebecca. She also has a silly argument with her best friend Lottie and neither w ...more
Babette
Jul 15, 2012 Babette rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book was a New York Times Notable Book, maybe that is what put it on my reading list. In any case, I looked forward to something that would touch my emotions and expand my understanding of the human condition. I was sorely disappointed. This was not a bad book, but I kept waiting for it to get better, to give me more of the characters and their relationships. I felt I was looking at a surface, but the depths were murky. Perhaps that is because the characters were murky. Isabel is searching ...more
sisterimapoet
Nov 17, 2009 sisterimapoet rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-2009
A gift from a friend who clearly knows my reading tastes.

I really enjoyed this. Lots of other reviewers seemed to struggle with the not much happening, but that was the books main appeal to me.

I thought the central character felt very real. I felt like I had a priviledged glimpse into her life and thoughts.

I liked the way the lesbian content was present without being a weighty agenda. I like D'Erasmo attention to the little details. Like the plastic turtle in the childrens playground.

I'd been k
...more
Lydia
Apr 22, 2012 Lydia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I simply could not get into this book. The long passages of narrative and unexciting writing were simply too much to overcome.

I went back and tried to read this book again and managed to get through it. Written in a very literary style, the sections of this book are Morning, Afternoon, and Evening, the three stages of Isabel's life (until the age of 22). I still did not particularly like the non-plot feel of this novel. I am not opposed to literary work, but feel the writing must be superb and d
...more
Purlewe
Dec 14, 2012 Purlewe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, glbt
This book had so much potential. Daughter makes her mom a cup of tea and waits for her downstairs, while her mom commits suicide upstairs. The rest of the book is her life without her mom, either as a hole in her life, or as a mom shaped place in her mind. She finds herself feeling love for both men and women, and how she finds that was lovely, but could have been fleshed out more. The end of the book was devoid of emotion. And could have given the reader a stopping point, but didn't. This isn't ...more
Denise
Sep 10, 2014 Denise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As the rating says, "It was OK".
Melody
Sep 08, 2009 Melody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were some really good parts but the ending was too abrupt. It seemed like the author got tired of writing and decided to go the "circular route" where the ending goes back to the beginning and you realize that the main character is going to now tell the story you've just read. The book is written in three sections, each telling about a particular period of the main character's life. I enjoyed the middle section called "Afternoon" the best but wish the relationships had been more developed.
Nanci
Aug 20, 2008 Nanci rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was given to me by someone who only made it to page 69 and just wasn't "feeling" the characters or the story. I'd heard of it and thought I'd give it a try. It wasn't so bad but not amazing. I was curious as to what would happen to the main character and even though the end did circle back to start of the novel, it just wasn't enough to matter.
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Meh, I didn't like this book. It's supposed to tell the coming of age story of Isabel, a girl whose mother kills herself when Isabel was very young. The author misses a key place to tell a story about how children cope when parents commit suicide (something that unfortunately happens entirely too much). Isabel is cliched and never really moves much.
Jenifer Hardie
I thought this book was well written, I liked how the author divided her life into 3 parts- morning, afternoon and evening- all of our lives could be divided into these 3 same parts. I did not choose this book, my mom had it and I was looking for something to read, I found I enjoyed it, even though it was not really what I expected. But, still a good read.
Katie M.
Mar 31, 2010 Katie M. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer, 2009
After all the hubbub about Stacey D'Erasmo's A Seahorse Year (which, to be totally fair, I haven't read), I was totally underwhelmed by this mostly-forgettable series of vague and disjointed episodes in the life of its protagonist.
Aischa
Oh great, no 5 star reviews. Thank god I bought it at a thrift store.

Well. Not bad, not great. I do like the nostalgic haze of her past. Yes, it could be more fleshed out, but perhaps the shallowness is just the faded image of memory.
The only thing that kept me going was this weird desire to inhabit the 70s/80s as a reader.
Alison
Mar 10, 2008 Alison rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-japan
It just wasn't quite what I expected. I remember reading the synopsis online and being really intrigued, of course when I actually began to read it, it turned out to be pretty boring in my opinion. I guess it's a coming of age story for this girl, but even at the end of the story I don't feel as if the character has really grown.
Mickey
Mar 06, 2013 Mickey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book. It promised but never fulfilled. I admit, I paid $2 for it at my local library bookstore. I also admit that if my money hadn't helped support a good cause, I would definitely feel I could have used my pocket change to buy something I would have enjoyed more, like a pack of gum.
Lisa
Jan 06, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I actually wish I could give this four and a half stars. I've been reading my way through Stacey D'Erasmo's work; I have much admiration and affection for it. Tea is a quiet novel that is very well-rendered. I simply happen to like her other two novels (to date) even more.
Katharine Holden
Girl at different stages of her life. Beautiful. Powerful. Oddly, enough the best descriptions of cigarette smoking I've ever read. Characters drawn in a few words. Almost stream of consciousness writing, but without the phoney lack of punctuation. Wonderful novel.
Colleen
Oct 08, 2012 Colleen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Isabel’s mother commits suicide when she is eight and the novel follows her over the next 18 years as she tries to find her identity. I finished it, but it wasn’t great and I don’t think I recommend it to anyone.
Kristen
Mar 20, 2015 Kristen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-quit
Abandoned about 60% of the way through. I'd been warned by reviews that there's no obvious plot but there isn't a whole lot of character development to speak of either. It's disconnected and lackluster.
Kate
Aug 30, 2012 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: published-2000s
Giving this three stars for some good characters, writing and believable portrayals of different decades (60s/70s/80s), but it was too slow in parts and never quite gelled for me.
Tara Daly
Jun 09, 2007 Tara Daly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bisexuals, lesbians
Kind of an average read, but female/female desire described in fairly good detail with some good sex scenes. Of course, this is all I remember, not sure what happens plot-wise?
Kataklicik
Feb 12, 2010 Kataklicik rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Tear-your-hair-out boring.

Despite rave reviews published in the opening pages, and despite one actually saying the book is "flawless". Isy, Tipah tertipu!
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Stacey D’Erasmo is the author of the novels Tea, (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year); and A Seahorse Year (a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year and a Lambda Literary Award winner). Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, and Ploughshares. She is currently an assistant professor of writing at Columbia University.
More about Stacey D'Erasmo...

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