Teatime for the Firefly
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Teatime for the Firefly

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  678 ratings  ·  179 reviews
Layla Roy has defied the fates.

Despite being born under an inauspicious horoscope, she is raised to be educated and independent by her eccentric grandfather, Dadamoshai. And, by cleverly manipulating the hand fortune has dealt her, she has even found love with Manik Deb—a man betrothed to another. All were minor miracles in India that spring of 1943, when young women's liv...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Harlequin MIRA (first published January 1st 2013)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
A Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryThe Namesake by Jhumpa LahiriThe God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyThe White Tiger by Aravind AdigaInterpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
India: Fiction
88th out of 162 books — 181 voters
Shantaram by Gregory David RobertsLife of Pi by Yann MartelA Passage to India by E.M. ForsterThe God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyCracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa
Fiction Books Set in India
18th out of 29 books — 35 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,187)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Melissa Crytzer Fry
I won this book through the Goodreads First Reads program and was immediately transported back to my youth – not because I have any ties to Assam tea plantations in India, but because of a pen-pal relationship I experienced with a young Indian girl, Urvashi, who was forced to change her first and last name when she entered into an arranged marriage as a teenager. In my foolishness, I wrote back to her, indicating my horror at the thought of an arranged marriage, of losing her identity, her name...more
Tara Chevrestt
If you are interested in the life of tea planters in India after WWII, this is the book for you.

I'm afraid it doesn't offer a lot more beyond that, except it does show us some Indian customs and traditions and superstitions and just overall way of life during that time as well.

I struggled with some of this. I almost tossed it in the quarter because while I was hooked in the beginning, when the love interest, Mani went to become a tea planter, leaving the heroine behind for three years, their "ro...more
Judith Starkston
Teatime for the Firefly creates a vivid portrayal of the exotic world of the Assam tea plantations and Indian life during both WWII and the momentous upheavals immediately following the war. The tensions between British colonialism and Indian aspirations for a free nation are played out against the intensely personal story of Layla and Manik. From their chance and rather magical meeting through their unusual marriage, Patel has given us a sophisticated understanding of daily life in India throug...more
This review, as well as many more, can be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm (www.thebakingbookworm.blogspot.ca)

Author: Patel Shona
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type: Advanced Reading Copy (ARC)
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
First Line: "My name is Layla and I was born under an unlucky star."

My Thoughts: After adoring other books based in India (namely The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda) I was eager to read another book set in the very rich culture...more
This was historical fiction well done. Layla was born under an unlucky star. Because of this she knew that no one would ever want to marry her. Luckily, her grandfather had been British educated and believed that women should educated and should be free to make decisions for themselves. Imagine Layla's surprise when she is asked for her hand in marriage and becomes the wife to an assistant manager of a tea plantation. Her husband, also British educated is one of the first Indians to be given a m...more
My Book Addiction and More MBA
TEATIME FOR THE FIREFLY by Shona Patel is an interesting Women's Fiction set in 1940's India. The first thing we learn is that Layla Roy was born under an unlucky star, that makes her a Manglik,which is bad news for her. You see this makes her an unlucky one according to local superstition, and the Hindu horoscope. But things change for Layla on April 7, 1943,when she falls in love with Manik Deb......

A very poignant story enriched with culture and history of the Hindus, Muslims, British and the...more
Linda Hicks
I highly recommend Shona Patel's debut novel, Teatime for the Firefly. I enjoyed everything about this book. The characters are fully formed, the imagery is strong and the story is well developed throughout with an especially strong conclusion which opens the door to future books. Shona introduces the reader to the challenging life on the Assam tea plantations through the eyes and experiences of the main character, Layla. From the opening lines of the unique novel, "My name is Layla and I was bo...more
Some interesting historical information imparted about the tea plantations in eastern India, but not enough to make this book highly commendable.
Pleasantly easy to read, but annoyingly punctuated with obvious similes, spelled out uncreatively for the reader. I found the title after a genre search of my local library catalogue, and there was no indication in that search that this was a Harlequin publication. Nevertheless, it didn't pan out like a nauseating love story, and with some tighter editi...more
Laura Bryant
Beautifully written book. So enjoyable. I adore a story about characters that I simply fall in love with. A strong young Indian girl who is convinced that her fate has been sealed by a superstition perpetuated by a culture that believes in bad luck being predetermined by the alignment of the starts on the day of your birth. However, nothing could be further from the truth for Layla. She is raised by her progressive and highly educated (Cambridge educated) grandfather to be independent and confid...more
The author's parents worked on a tea plantation in Assam and the author did borrow some details from their lives, but much of the story is pure fiction. Nevertheless, the fact that she has some experience with this life lends an authenticity to the story. The first page intrigued me: On April 7 1943 "Three things happened that day: Boris Ivanov, the famous Russian novelist, slipped on a tuberose at the grand opening ceremony of a new school, fell and broke his leg; a baby crow fell out of its ne...more
Shonna Froebel
This novel is set in Assam, India in the 1940s. Layla is a young woman of seventeen who has been brought up by her grandfather, an educated man who believes in the importance of educating women so they have choices. Layla birth time and the death of her parents have led many traditional Indians to believe her to be bad luck and she has resigned herself to never marrying. She aims to continue her grandfather's legacy of education for girls and has started training to be a teacher. Her grandfather...more
good story but very slow reading. lots of fluff and unnecessary stories that failed to contribute to the overall direction of the book.
Teatime for the Firefly is really two love stories. The first is the story about Layla, an Indian orphan born with an unlucky future, and a British educated Indian man, Manik Deb. An arranged marriage brings Manik into Layla's world because his intended lives nearby. He throws away his future by accepting a job on a tea plantation with his real purpose to break off the engagement so he can marry Layla.

But there's another love story, the second one about Layla's growing appreciation for the isola...more
This review can be found on my blog:

Title: Teatime for the Firefly
Author: Shona Patel
ISBN: 9780778315476
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Source: Advance copy via NetGalley
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

From Shona Patel’s blog:

"My name is Layla and I was born under an unlucky star. The time and place of my birth makes me a Manglik. For a young girl growing up in India in the 1940’s, this is bad news. The planet Mars is predominant in my Hindu...more
Colleen Turner
I reviewed this book for www.luxuryreading.com.

While Layla was born under an unlucky star her grandfather raised her to be educated and progressive, determined to try and give her the freedom to make her own destiny in a traditional Indian world that saw her as having very few choices. And with her independent and intelligent spirit, Layla does just that. Marrying a man previously betrothed to another and leaving behind everything she has ever known to follow her new husband to his job as an ass...more
Celia Bishop
What a delightful book and a wonderful tribute to her parents! In Teatime for the Firefly, Shona Patel has created a beautiful story with many layers that make it much more than a historical romance. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I loved the well developed characters and the vivid descriptions of the different settings – all while learning about tea plantations, old and new cultures, crows and koels, butterflies and their association with death, the taming of elephants... I could go on and on....more
Cynthia Robertson
The road to my grandfather’s house was wide and tree-lined, with Gulmohor Flame Trees planted at regular intervals: exactly thirty feet apart. Their leafy branches crisscrossed overhead to form a magnificent latticed archway. On summer days the road was flecked with gold, and spring breezes showered down a torrent of vermillion petals that swirled and trembled in the dust like wounded butterflies.
(end excerpt)

Set against the backdrop of Assam tea plantations in the 1940’s, and the civil unrest t...more
This is a lovely book from first-time author Shona Patel. Her main character, Layla Roy, develops from a well-educated, naive young woman, into someone ready to face down revolutionaries for the man she loves. While a somewhat idealized version of the times the book is set in, the story will grab anyone who loves historical fiction, especially that set during the turbulent history of India in the 1940's-'50's. It also provides an interesting insight into the Assam tea plantations which were know...more
This was an interesting story about a young couple in 1940s India, with emphasis on life on a British-owned tea farm. I wonder a bit who the audience is for this book. In the background of the story is the story of India's independence and the eventual creation of Pakistan, but very little of that is explained, so I imagine the intended audience is someone who knows more about Indian history than I do. In spite of that, the love story of the young couple is very endearing, and the description of...more
Enchanted Prose

ASSAM, INDIA – BRITISH COLONIALISM, 1940s: On a “delicate and ephemeral” spring day of “golden rain” in 1943 Colonial Assam (a northeastern State in India), we are introduced to a delicate beauty and enduring female voice: 17-year-old Layla Roy from Silchar. She has been lovingly and non-traditionally raised to have choices and a fine education by her esteemed, scholarly, independent, and endearing grandfather, Dadamoshai; and she has fallen in love with Manik Deb, a civil servant and Rhodes Sch

Teatime for the Firefly is set in India in the years of 1943-1946. Layla Roy was born under an unlucky star, and was considered by most to live a doomed life, and probably to never marry. Her early life supports this as her father was killed in a war and her mother committed suicide. However her eccentric grandfather raises and educates her, the fostering an independence that is rare for girls of the time. Her path happens to cross with Manic Deb, recently returned from an Oxford education and p...more
Layla and Manik Deb are having tea on a veranda in Silchar, India. It is 1946, the evening of their wedding day. “A handful of fireflies descended from the sky and winked softly around us,” Layla tells us. “I watched a firefly land on a teacup. It pulsed softly, lighting the translucent bone china with sharp flashes of ethereal life.” Manik’s reaction: “I love sharing my teatime with fireflies.”

Such lovely images are sprinkled here and there throughout Shona Patel’s debut novel, “Teatime for the...more
Nancy Foster
What a treat this first novel is! The author leads us through life in the Assam region of India at the conclusion of WW II. She paints such wonderful pictures with words of life , you feel like you can see it all. It is a time of great unrest and she shows the reader how this effects all the classes. I loved learning about the tea plantations. Ms. Patel has drawn rich characters that draw you in until you cannot put the book down. I think this book has it all, romance, intrigue, history, humor.
Pooja Jeevagan
Its not a conventional story...and then to be honest, its not much of a story itself. The book is more or less about a few year's of a woman's life with the tea plantation in background. It's a life's journey which you wouldn't really find too thrilling or amazing but that's where the debutante author wins. She is able to pick out beautiful words and make you get glued to a simple day to day diary...

All in all, with no real interest or understanding of tea garden (or in hindsight appreciation of...more
Layla Roy was born as the unlucky child under the inauspicious horoscope. She was raised by her grandfather, The Rai Bahadur in the rural Calcutta as a strong, independent, fiery and an educated woman. Despite of her beauty and confidence, Layla grew up with a little fear deep down in her heart that because of her unlucky stars she might not ever be able to find a man suitable enough to love and marry her. But fate had other plans. Layla fell in love with young, handsome tea planter Manik Deb, w...more
A beautifully told story of the first Indian manager in the world famous tea plantations in the mountain region of India. A beautiful story, gently and slowly told, simple to follow and identify with the characters. Like an expanded short story. The region is magnificent, its situation complex and the period following Independence brought with it its share of disturbances, and this couple has to negotiate their new reality. I was thrilled to find this hidden treasure.
Jennifer H
I liked this book, and then I was bored with it and almost gave up, and then I liked it again. It starts off with a sense of a strong female character who is empowered by her grandfather in a time in India where she otherwise wouldn't be. She falls in love with the neighbor's fiancé, and he farts around getting unengaged and then asking Layla to get married. That’s when I started to lose interest. I kept thinking that she was making a terrible decision because she didn’t really know him and he w...more
I enjoyed this novel, especially the first half which reminded me a little of a 19th century novel with its slow pace, its occasional meadering into a mini-treatise on one subject or another, and its formality of language. The second half of the story which was mostly set in the assam tea plantations of India was very good for the most part with the exception of some plot twists which seemed implausible to me.

The characters of Layla, her grandfather Dadamoshai and her friend, then suitor Manik...more
Layla Roy was born under an unlucky star, an orphan raised by her modern grandfather. Layla is much like her beloved India, trapped between the past and the future. Some want them to keep to their culture and past, seeing modernizing as becoming like the British. Others worry that their archaic practices are hobbling the country.

She falls in love with Manik Deb, a man betrothed to another, just as trapped as she is by culture and expectations. Then he bucks tradition by leaving his promising bur...more
Patty Mccormick
Overall I enjoyed this book, It had an interesting setting and time period. The writer gives us a good idea of what struggles Layla had to face as a young woman in India, from her life at home and later as a married woman. Layla was fortunate that she was able to break from many of the expectations of Indian tradition. I loved the descriptions of India and the tea plantation life. Unfortunately I did not feel that strong of an attachment to the characters, there needed to be something that swept...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 72 73 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Library Book Club: Teatime for the Firefly 2 9 Jan 08, 2014 12:08PM  
Ask Shona Patel: Favorite character in the book 1 4 Nov 29, 2013 09:38AM  
The role of female characters in Teatime for the Firefly 1 12 Nov 24, 2013 09:18AM  
  • The Loved and the Lost (The Verona Trilogy #3)
  • Three Souls
  • The Gallery of Vanished Husbands
  • Katya's War (Russalka Chronicles, #2)
  • Belle Cora
  • A Bitter Veil
  • One Great Year
  • Letters From a Murderer: The First Jameson & Argenti Investigation
  • A Christmas Garland (Christmas Stories #10)
  • The Tenth Witness
  • Any Other Name (The Split Worlds, #2)
  • Death of a Nightingale (Nina Borg #3)
  • The Book of the Crowman
  • Secretariat Reborn
  • The Fall of Saints
  • The Secret of the Nightingale Palace
  • The Sweetest Hallelujah
  • Angel City (The Angelus Trilogy #2)
Shona Patel, the daughter of an Assam tea planter, drew upon her personal observations and experiences to create the vivid characters and setting for Teatime for the Firefly. An honors graduate in English literature from Calcutta University, Ms. Patel has won several awards for creative writing and is a trained graphic designer. Teatime for the Firefly is her debut novel.
Please visit her blog at w...more
More about Shona Patel...
The Next Page: A Fiction Sampler for Book Clubs: The Returned\The Sweetest Hallelujah\The Mourning Hours\The Tulip Eaters\Teatime for the Firefly\I'll Be Seeing You

Share This Book

“But I also know this: even though water chooses the path of least resistance, it ultimately defines its own course. Rivers divide and merge, they braid and weave, the form complex wholes. They move apart only to rejoin at a defferent point. The geography of our lives would reconnect us again.” 3 likes
“Love survives in a bubble. It diffuses outer reality and reflects only what the heart wants to see.” 3 likes
More quotes…