Our Abiko's Reviews > The Teas That Bind

The Teas That Bind by J.C. Greenway
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's review
Jun 03, 12

it was amazing
Read in June, 2012

Our Man was reluctant to read and review this book for three reasons: Could this be any good? (it's just a collection of blog posts, dammit); how can he be honest about it, as Jo is a friend? Jo did much to make Quakebook the success it was, how can anyone trust anything Our Man says about this book?

Then he read it.

It is a collection of blog posts, but edited ones with some more writing too. But it's one of those books where the whole is more than the sum of its constituent parts. There is a three-point narrative here: The British girl looking to escape the dull certainties of life in England, who finds more than she could have anticipated in a strange land, and her acceptance and discovery of a role to play in this increasingly familiar land.

Our Man has met Jo only once in person, but frequently online. Still, he would count her as a friend. He doesn't know if that clouds his judgement, no doubt it does, but while reading of the travails of our girl in 2011 Japan, something in the background kept niggling at Our Man. A voice he'd heard before. Was it an echo of George Orwell, Jo's hero? Not exactly, though the subject matter and opinions were complementary.

Anyway, how can you trust anything Our Man says about this book? He and Quakebook - the project that took over his life for several months after the earthquake - are mentioned frequently. Well, the answer is it's up to you how much trust you put into the opinions of a silhouette with a bogus name and a penchant for third person. Personally, Our Man wouldn't trust a single word. He's like that.

But he does now know who Jo's voice is like. It was a voice Our Man encountered on his mother's bookshelves years ago. Another young author in a strange land, finding her feet and discovering her voice. Have you read In Pursuit of the English: A Documentary by Doris Lessing?

Whether The Teas That Bind is as good, Our Man can't say yet, but he can say this: it's a fascinating document of one woman's experiences as an observer of a nation in crisis. Whether it will become a valuable insight into the mind of a great novelist at the outset of her writing career is entirely up to Jo to decide.

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