Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Share an Extract from your Latest Book – #Southern Little Tea by Claire Fullerton


Welcome to the series where authors in the Cafe and Bookstore an extract from their most recent book. If you are in the Cafe, and would like to participate you can find all the details here: Share an Extract

The next author to share an extract is Claire Fullerton for her novel Little Tea a book that I can recommend. Claire also shares some location shots from the novel.

About the book.

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.

For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.

As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.

 

An extract from Little Tea

“Hey, Little Tea,” Hayward called as she and I sat crossed-legged on the north side of the verandah. “I bet I can beat you to the mailbox and back.” It was a Saturday afternoon in early June, and we’d spread the church section of the Como Panolian beneath us and positioned ourselves beneath one of the pair of box windows gracing either side of the front door. The front door was fully open, but its screen was latched to keep the bugs from funneling into the entrance hall. They’d be borne from the current of the verandah ceiling fans that stirred a humidity so pervasive and wilting, there was no escaping until the weather cooled in early November. The glass pitcher of sweet tea Elvita gave us sat opaque and sweating, reducing crescents of ice to weak bobbing smiles around a flaccid slice of lemon.

Little Tea stood to her full height at Hayward’s challenge, her hand on her hip, her oval eyes narrowed. “Go on with yourself,” she said to Hayward, which was Little Tea’s standard way of dismissal.

“I bet I can,” Hayward pressed, standing alongside Rufus, his two-year-old Redbone coonhound who shadowed him everywhere.

Little Tea took a mighty step forward. “And you best get that dog outta here ’fore he upends this here paint. Miss Shirley gone be pitching a fit you get paint on her verandah.”

“Then come race me,” Hayward persisted. “Rufus will follow me down the driveway. You just don’t want to race because I beat you the last time.”

“You beat me because you a cheat,” Little Tea snapped.

“She’s right, Hayward,” I said. “You took off first, I saw you.”

“It’s not my fault she’s slow on the trigger,” Hayward responded. “Little Tea hesitated, I just took the advantage.”

“I’ll be taking advantage now,” she stated, walking down the four brick steps to where Hayward and Rufus stood.

At ten years old, Little Tea was taller than me and almost as tall as Hayward. She had long, wire-thin limbs whose elegance belied their dependable strength, and a way of walking from an exaggerated lift of her knees that never disturbed her steady carriage. She was regal at every well-defined angle, with shoulders spanning twice the width of her tapered waist and a swan neck that pronounced her determined jaw.

Smiling, Hayward bounced on the balls of his feet, every inch of his lithe body coiled and ready to spring. There was no refusing Hayward’s smile, and he knew it. It was a thousand-watt pirate smile whose influence could create a domino effect through a crowd. I’d seen Hayward’s smile buckle the most resistant of moods; there was no turning away from its white-toothed, winsome source. When my brother smiled, he issued an invitation to the world to get the joke.

Typically, the whole world would.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Christi F 5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Read!! Reviewed in the United States on June 9, 2020

Little Tea packs a powerful punch, especially reading it in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. I do not tolerate prejudice of any kind, and reading about southern prejudice, even in fiction, makes my skin crawl, but Claire Fullerton paints a picture that I was not expecting, and left me with all the feels.

Celia, the main character, is a peacekeeper by nature, and has gotten really good at suppressing her feelings about life’s circumstances, and running away from it all. It’s been years since she’s been home, but when one of her best friends needs her help, she immediately flees home. Oh, to have friends that have your back like that. One of the things I admired about this novel is the friendships, the loving despite flaws, and backing the other person even if you don’t quite see eye to eye on certain actions.

While Celia’s mission during her trip is to help her friend, she finds herself facing her own tortured past that she has fought to run away from. Written in Celia’s own words, she parallels her past story with her present situation in a seamless way, telling a tale of growing up on a plantation in a privileged family in the deep south, alongside her brother and her best friend, Little Tea. Little Tea’s family have worked for Celia’s family for generations, and to Celia they are like family, though not everyone in her family shares her sentiments, some continuing to hold onto outdated racial discrimination.

Reading about Celia and Little Tea growing up was hands down my favorite part of the story, the innocence as sugary sweet as tea on a hot summer day. I especially loved the races, and how Little Tea and all her sass just shine. It was in those moments that I fell in love with this character, and admire how strong and independent she was, even at a young age.

Incredibly written, Claire Fullerton takes you into the life of a woman struggling to find closure, yet fighting the past at the same time, painting a vivid picture that I think we all can relate to. The character development is splendid, and while I do not understand southern traditions, or this world described, I felt it was true to life.

My only beef, if you can really even call it that, is the ending. Though there is a resolution, I was still left with questions, and actually groaned, “No…” when I realized it was the end. I craved to know more at the final revelation, but alas I must use my own imagination.

Despite feeling unfinished (most likely only to myself), Little Tea is a wonderfully written memoir with enviable friendships, excruciating heartache, and courage to face the past to better your future.

 

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Also by Claire Fullerton

Read the reviews and buy the books : Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read other reviews and follow Claire on : Goodreads

About Claire Fullerton

Claire Fullerton hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. She is the author of Mourning Dove, a coming of age, Southern family saga set in 1970’s Memphis. Mourning Dove is a five-time award winner, including the Literary Classics Words on Wings for Book of the Year, and the Ippy Award silver medal in regional fiction ( Southeast.) Claire is also the author of Dancing to an Irish Reel, a Kindle Book Review and Readers’ Favorite award winner that is set on the west coast of Ireland, where she once lived. Claire’s first novel is a paranormal mystery set in two time periods titled, A Portal in Time, set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

She is a contributor to the book, A Southern Season with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, set at a Memphis funeral ( because something always goes wrong at a Southern funeral.) Little Tea is Claire’s 4th novel and is set in the Deep South. It is the story of the bonds of female friendship, healing the past, and outdated racial relations. Little Tea is the August selection of the Pulpwood Queens, a Faulkner Society finalist in the William Wisdom international competition, and on the long list of the Chanticleer Review’s Somerset award. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary.

Connect to Claire

Website: Claire Fullerton
Blog: Claire Fullerton WordPress
Twitter: @Cfullerton3
Facebook: Claire Fullerton

Thanks for dropping in and I hope the extract from Little Tea has tempted you to read the book… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews – #SouthernFiction Claire Fullerton, #FlashFiction Sarah Brentyn, #FamilyDrama Judith Barrow


Welcome to the Friday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore updates with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author with reviews rolling in for her latest novel is Claire Fullerton for Little Tea, which I can also highly recommend

About the book.

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy

One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.

For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.

As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if friendship can triumph over history.

A recent review for the book on Goodreads

Apr 26, 2020 Linda Zagon rated it Five Stars

Claire Fullerton, author of “Little Tea’ has written an emotional, poignant, memorable, captivating, intriguing, and thought-provoking novel. The genres for this novel are Southern Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and Domestic Fiction. There is some Historical background mentioned in this story. There are two timelines mentioned in this story, the 1980’s in the south and the present day. The author describes her characters as complex and complicated. This is also a coming of age book. This is a book about family, friendship, betrayal, loyalty, forgiveness, love, and hope.

The author discusses important issues that existed in the south in the 1980s, discrimination, and the differences between the poor and richer classes. Sometimes you have to revisit the past, to accept what is in the present and what will be in the future. I love that Claire Fullerton vividly describes the characters, events, and landscape in the story.

In the present, Celia who now lives in California with her husband gets an urgent phone call from her long time friend Renny pleading with her to come to her Lakehouse in Arkansas to discuss and deal with their troubled friend Ava. Celia decides to go, and what is supposed to be a helpful visit to her friends, becomes a visit to the past, memories, and tragedy. Is it possible to learn, forgive, and move on? I would highly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy reading about southern culture.
 

Head over to read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Also by Claire Fullerton

Read the reviews and buy the books : Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read other reviews and follow Claire on : Goodreads

Connect to Claire on her website: Claire Fullerton

The next author celebrating a recent review is Sarah Brentyn for her flash fiction collection On the Edge of a Raindrop.

About the collection

When You’re on the Edge, It’s Easy to Fall

These are stories of lives on the edge.

A girl tortured by the world within her. A boy powerless to escape his home. A mother doomed to live with her greatest mistake. A man lost in a maze of grief.

Each raindrop provides a microscopic mirror of ourselves and those around us. But we can’t always trust what we see. The distorted images disorient the mind, altering our view of reality.

This second collection of flash and micro fiction explores the depths of the human condition and the fragile surface of our perceptions.

Dive into these tales of darkness and discover what life is like On the Edge of a Raindrop

Each selection is approximately 100 words, with a bonus section of Microbursts in which each story is told in 50 words or less.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Harmony Kent 5.0 out of 5 stars Finished in a delightful flash  Reviewed in the United States on April 15, 2020

Another brilliant book of flash and micro fiction from author Sarah Brentyn. This is the second book by this writer that I’ve read, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The only problem is that I finished it in a flash.

Here are a few lines that stood out for me … although so many others did too …

Her memory lane was pot holes and busted chunks of asphalt.
Lightning lit the room then plunged me into darkness. I was petrified. Not of the storm, but of the thing I’d seen next to my bed.
When the skies were beautiful watercolour paintings of our bruises.

In just a few words, the author evokes so many different emotions and moods. Brilliantly done. On the Edge of a Raindrop gets a resounding five stars from me.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Also by Sarah Brentyn

Read the reviews and buy the Collections: Amazon US

And on: Amazon UK

Read other reviews and follow Sarah: Goodreads

Connect to Sarah via her: Blog

The final author is Judith Barrow with a review for her compelling family drama and another book that I can recommendThe Memory.

About the book

Mother and daughter tied together by shame and secrecy, love and hate.

I wait by the bed. I move into her line of vision and it’s as though we’re watching one another, my mother and me; two women – trapped.

Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.

Rose was Irene’s little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future.

The new novel from the bestselling author of the Howarth family saga

One of the recent reviews

Terry Tyler 4.0 out of 5 stars Familiary breeds contempt…  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 April 2020

I liked the structure of this book a lot – it’s written in the first person, and each chapter starts with a small section in the present day (2002), with Irene, the main character, taking care of her mother, who has dementia. Then it goes back in time, starting in 1963 when she was a child, and her sister, Rose, who has Down’s Syndrome, is born. I really loved the first third, which detailed Irene’s love for her sister (quite beautiful) and the difficulties within the family, with her cold, brusque mother, delightful father and the grandmother she adored. I was completely absorbed. The rest of the story pivots around a shocking event that takes place at around 40%.

The book slowed down for me a little during the middle section, which was about Irene’s growing up and the early part of her marriage to Sam, and I found the family’s lives rather depressing (which is a bit rich coming from someone who writes about dystopian horrors, but I find the end of the world as we know it less depressing than a humdrum life. I know, I’m weird). In the final third developments became much more interesting, and I was engrossed once more. I would have liked a little more in the way of plot, but that’s just personal taste, not a criticism; this is a character rather than a plot-driven book.

The strongest aspect of the latter part of the book was the initial development of the mother’s dementia; I have experience of this with my late mother, and, although the circumstances were very different, it certainly struck a chord, with one particular episode bringing tears to my eyes.

My favourite characters were Irene’s father and her husband, Sam, who I thought got a bit of a raw deal and put up with too much (I do hope he had more fun than he admitted to Irene, during a time when circumstances forced them apart). I can’t say I liked Irene, who put her own obsession with the past before his happiness, and whose outlook often seemed rather narrow (I kept wanting to tell her to lighten up, and do something a bit crazy!), but I appreciated how deeply and lastingly she was affected by the aforementioned shocking event, and she’s a thoroughly three-dimensional character.

The other star of the book is the time and place—the working class northern England of the 1960s and 70s, which was as starkly and realistically portrayed as any TV kitchen sink drama.

The ending brings a most surprising twist directly related to the events of Irene’s earlier years, which filled me with regret on her behalf. If you enjoy emotional family dramas that dig deep into the psyche, you will love this book, with its vivid descriptions of familial conflict, loss and the day to day difficulties of caring for a person with dementia.

Read the reviews and buy the book : Amazon UK

And:  Amazon US

Also by Judith Barrow

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Judith: Goodreads

Connect to Judith via her blog: Judith Barrow

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books under your arm.. thanks Sally.