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Teatime for the Firefly

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  2,355 ratings  ·  408 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
Paperback, 432 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Harlequin MIRA (first published January 1st 2013)
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74 books — 33 voters
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Tea Time!
269 books — 98 voters

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Connie G
"Teatime for the Firefly" was an engaging combination of Indian culture, history, and romance in the unusual setting of an Assam tea plantation. Layla Roy was born under an unlucky star and was orphaned at an early age. Fortunately she was raised by her wise grandfather to be an educated, independent thinker. Manik Deb, a recent graduate from Oxford who had taken a managerial position on a remote tea plantation, fell in love with the lovely Layla. After they married he brought her to the tea gar ...more
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
K.J. Charles
Very engaging story set in 1940s Assam. Orphaned Layla is brought up by her radical judge grandfather with a great education but no marriage prospects because of superstition about her birth and her mother's suicide. Manik, educated in England, is the only man in the small traditional town to appreciate her, but has a marriage arranged--which he can only get out of by becoming a tea planter, the first Indian to be given managerial responsibility in these English-led businesses. This is the story ...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
Judith Starkston
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
This review, as well as many more, can be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm (

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
Linda Hicks
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Donna Kimball
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: most every one who wants a great read
Shelves: fiction
This lyrical novel will entrance you. It takes place in pre-partition India, in a magical place--the tea gardens of Assam.
The early portion of the book follows Layla's early life--as someone born under a bad astrological sign, she has few prospects for her future. She is raised by her eloquent grandfather, and is an articulate and caring young lady. When she falls in love(secretly) with Manik(who is betrothed to her friend), the magic then begins. Manik sends letters to Layla from Assam, and Lay
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Missy J
Set in a very exotic part of India that I wasn't even aware of until this year. "Teatime for the Firefly" is a story set in the lush and green tea plantations of northeastern India in 1947. The author Shona Patel was inspired by her grandparent's life when she penned this novel down. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed reading this book , especially at the beginning. The characters were unconventional and not dictated by society's expectations, which was a prevalent theme in the India ...more
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put it down...I loved it!
That said, numerous comments seemed out of place.. Supposedly the narrator was writing about her own life in the 1940s, but some of the things she says seemed clearly to be written with the benefit of 21st century hindsight, and would not have been part of the conversation at that time.. But this doesn't ruin the beautiful story and powerful descriptions of tea plantation life at that time..
Celia Bishop
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I rarely give 5 stares. Especially since I read mostly crime,murder or just plain drama. But sometimes I question How am I am going to pick my next read? Is it by title, best seller, suggestion & yes book cover? I feel this was by title - a no brainer for me. My mother loved tea & I could never, as much as I tried, enjoy the cuppa with her. So in her memory I may read an occasional book with tea in the the tile. I loved this book from page 1 to the end. I loved all the characters good & bad. It ...more
At the beginning I really liked this book and thought it would end up a 5 star. The writing itself was good (although longwinded and very repetetive at times), but it quickly felt as if the author had written the book off of a long list of facts, of which she crammed in as many as possible. Everything was explained to death, even between characters, which made many of the conversations and letters feel very stilted and constructed.
My main disappointment though was that there was no real stor
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed-books
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
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
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, five-stars
The Islington Libraries copy of The Far Pavilions, which I was labouring through on a train somewhere between Reading and Karidkote, is as thick as a Dundee cake and has a soft-focus cover featuring its heroine (she's not a heroine, but that's a different review) wistfully posing in a windswept sari on a dilapidated palace balcony. Even through the protective plastic wrapping, it gave the lady opposite me enough information to lean over and say: "if you enjoy a Raj romance, you should read Teati ...more
Bebe (Sarah) Brechner
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This has been on my list for quite a while, and I'm so glad I finally read it. I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully written story set in the Assam region of India during the turbulent WWII years and afterwards. This is the period in which India agitates towards independence, religious factions vie for dominance, the fabulous Assam tea plantations are slowly exploding, and social norms in small towns are remaining obstinately inhibiting for women. It is a remarkably eloquent story, enriched by t ...more
Tina Panik
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: india, fiction
It's interesting to see how Layla's fated bad luck changes over the course of the book, and the details about the Assam Tea Trade are fascinating. ...more
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. I love it.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I admired the woman empowerment during that period. I loved the character ‘Dadamoshai’ sure many women wish to have a grandfather like him. The book wonderfully unfolds the tea garden life which many are unaware. Hindu-Muslim riots, India’s Independence,the romance between Layla and Manik , all makes the book as a good read. The author ended it well and the final pages didn’t let me to put it down
Souri Misra
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
I did not wish to complete reading the book “Teatime for a Firefly” by Shona Patel! I always wondered what a book solely based on Assam and the Tea Plantations would be like! Having witnessed the life of a Tea Planter (albeit the Tea Garden Doctor) during my childhood I could so identify with the the locale and through Layla, witness the life and times of the local plantation workers as they face racism, poverty, superstition and even politics.

The plot is divided into two locales- her Hometown
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Moving this to my "Shelved for Later" shelf, but realistically might be a DNF. I really enjoyed the first third: the historical context, learning about life in India in the pre-partition era, and Layla's upbringing by her grandfather which can be considered feminist for the time. I enjoyed her being more educated and independent than might have been common for women at the time in India, but that all goes out the window when she marries the older and further educated Manik Deb (Indian man, Briti ...more
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Shreya Vaid
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Some books share stories with you. And then there are book like Teatime For The Firefly which transport you totally into a whole new world! A world which we never knew about, which was hidden until someone as talented as Shona Patel shared it with us.

Teatime For The Firefly follows the story of Layla Roy. Born under an inauspicious star, she is raised to be intelligent and independent by her unconventional Dadamoshai, who from time to time stands up and questions Indian society's crude and decay
Mar 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-to-read
This book had some absolutely riveting moments and draws from experience in a world that few understand, but I had just as many, if not more, problems with it as I did lovely moments.

For one thing, it fails to do the one thing it had true potential to do: be a moving story of persevering and sacrificing love between a husband and wife. It's not that. We're supposed to think it's that, but the only times we get insight into Layla's heart, it's to describe how put out she is with her husband, or
Colleen Turner
I reviewed this book for

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
Shonna Froebel
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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Around the World ...: Discussion for Teatime for the Firefly 10 41 Dec 15, 2017 07:13PM  
Rolla Public Libr...: Question 3 1 2 Nov 17, 2017 11:32AM  
Rolla Public Libr...: Question 2 1 2 Nov 17, 2017 11:29AM  
Rolla Public Libr...: Books are here! 2 3 Nov 09, 2017 11:44AM  
Library Book Club: Teatime for the Firefly 2 17 Jan 08, 2014 12:08PM  
Ask Shona Patel: Favorite character in the book 1 10 Nov 29, 2013 09:38AM  
The role of female characters in Teatime for the Firefly 1 18 Nov 24, 2013 09:18AM  

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Shona Patel, the daughter of an Assam tea planter, drew upon her personal observations and experiences to create the vivid characters and setting for her critically acclaimed debut novel TEATIME FOR THE FIREFLY. Her second novel FLAME TREE ROAD was published in June 2015. An honors graduate in English literature from St. Xavier's College (Calcutta University) Ms. Patel has won several awards for c ...more

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