The heart-warming and hilarious new novel by Joanna Nell, author of cherished bestsellers The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village and The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home.
The Marjorie Marshall Memorial Cafeteria has been serving refreshments and raising money at the hospital for over fifty years, long after anybody can remember who Marjorie Marshall actually was. Staffed by successive generations of dedicated volunteers, the beloved cafeteria is known as much for offering a kind word and sympathetic ear (and often unsolicited life advice) as for its tea and buns.
Stalwart Hilary has worked her way up through the ranks to Manageress; Joy has been late every day since she started as the cafeteria’s newest recruit. She doesn’t take her role as ‘the intern’ quite as seriously as Hilary would like but there’s no doubt she brings a welcome pop of personality. Seventeen-year-old Chloe, the daughter of two successful surgeons, is volunteering during the school holidays because her mother thinks it will look good on her CV.
Chloe is at first bewildered by the two older women but soon realises they have a lot in common, not least that each bears a secret pain. When they discover the cafeteria is under threat of closure, this unlikely trio must band together to save it.
Joanna Nell returns with this delightful story about unlikely friendships amongst women of different ages, a quirky hospital cafeteria, growing up and growing old. The BR community loved Nell’s previous novels The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village, The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker, and The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home. Her latest novel hits the nail on the head once again. It’s a funny, light-hearted and cosy read, yet it also touches on deeper themes of aging, grief, illness, and difficult family relationships.
Told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Hilary, Joy, and Chloe, Tea Ladies takes readers into the heart and soul of St Jude’s Hospital – the charming cafeteria where doctors come for a break and patients and family members relax with tea and scones. When the women find out that the cafeteria is the latest casualty of the hospital’s major renovations, they begin to see that their store is more meaningful and valued than they realised.
While Hilary and Joy butt heads over the operation of the cafeteria, the arrival of fresh-faced Chloe provides an interesting perspective. Chloe ends up learning as much from the older women as they do from her, showing how age is no barrier to meaningful friendships. Nell knows the ins and outs of hospitals well, as she is a doctor and a bestselling author! She brilliantly combines her areas of expertise in The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital. For anyone who gets squeamish at the thought of hospitals or medical procedures, this novel has more tea and scones than it does scalpels or operations.
The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital is another funny, warm-hearted read from Nell, who continues to lead the way in telling engaging stories with older protagonists.