Your Preview Verdict: The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital by Joanna Nell

Your Preview Verdict: The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital by Joanna Nell

The heartwarming and hilarious new novel by the 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.

Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:

A very enjoyable read. The author touches on issues affecting seniors in a sensitive way. Loneliness, grief, having a purpose, friendships and family! The volunteers at the cafeteria are easy to get to know, and you can’t help but feel for them and hope for the outcome they all want. Ingrid, VIC, 5 Stars

What a beautiful little gem of a book! Full of heart, but still lighthearted; this was a lovely journey of support and friendship across generations. Joanna Nell is so skilled at creating sympathetic, understandable characters – even when they’re deeply quirky. The relationships between the three main characters were wonderfully sketched, but equally strong were the relationships to the supporting characters – Hilary and her sister, Chloe and her parents, Joy and her beloved husband. I cried; I laughed; I wanted to stay in their tea shop forever. Sylvia, QLD, 5 Stars

Joanna Nell’s writing is outstanding. Her medical knowledge, wit and description make you turn pages faster than ever before. From the moment you open the book and experience Hilary and Nancy bickering, you will oscillate between love, hate, annoyance and sympathy for each of the characters. Would you want to face a passionate group of volunteers, out to save their Tea Rooms? This book will tug at your heart strings as the stories Nell tells will draw out strong emotions. It’s fiction, but feels like the last visit I took to see my grandma in hospital. Claire, NSW, 5 Stars

It was no surprise that I loved this book, just as I enjoyed Joanna Nell’s previous book The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home. The unlikely friendship of Hilary, Joy and Chloe take us through the trials and tribulations of trying to save the failing and outdated cafeteria at St Jude’s Hospital. I most relate to the colourful character of Joy who is coming to terms with losing someone close to her. Joy is truly a delight with her caring and generous heart. I found many laugh out loud moments cleverly spread throughout the story. Twists during the book show that people are not always as they appear. Most heartwarming was finding that the age difference in this trio of volunteer canteen workers provides differences in attitude and life experiences in which friendships evolve. Vicki, QLD, 5 Stars

On front of the book of The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital, was the recipe for the book and it lived up to that. This book was so welcoming it made me giggle, laugh and cry. The characters drew you in and it was like getting to know new friends and frenemies. I loved how the characters developed & were different ages, backgrounds and friendships. Having worked in a hospital it brought back memories of the different people and characters and politics even in volunteering. It was funny how the character (not giving away the name) I did not like I respected at the end of the book. I will miss sitting down with a cuppa and reading about the St Jude’s ladies. I loved Joy, Chloe and Hilary so much. It was a stand alone book but I would love to know the next part of their journeys. As it said on the front cover it had heart and I recommend grabbing a cuppa and maybe a scone and enjoy. Judith, NSW, 5 Stars

Joanna has done it again. A book which sounds like a nice, lighthearted read, and it is but is also so much more! I fell in love with the characters, especially Joy, and really enjoyed the friendship that blossomed between the ladies of very different ages. A story that warmed my heart! Rachel, QLD, 5 Stars

What an absolutely delightful story. Right from the start I wanted to know more about Hilary, Joy and Chloe. They struck up a lovely friendship and enjoyed each other’s company daily. This was a delightful book to read and it has me intrigued to how the story would finish up. A book that I was genuinely sad to finish. Claire, VIC, 5 Stars

I really enjoyed this book and Joy, Chloe and Hilary were great to go on a journey with. I laughed and I cried but overall just LOVED this book. Elizabeth, NSW, 5 Stars

This book was as delightful as a warm cuppa tea by a cosy fire. Set in The Marjorie Marshall Memorial Cafeteria, at St Jude’s Hospital, three very different women come together to create a wonderful story of friendship, mixed with grief, a spreading of love, and topped with a dollop of Joy. I loved how the characters unfolded and their lives began to intertwine, each bearing their own secret pain. Hilary, the main character is a force to be reckoned with, someone I’d love to be like, but more likely to be intimidated by, She is not only the Manageress of Cafeteria she is its heart and soul. Joy, is the perfect garnish to Hilary and the Cafeteria adding the much needed colour. Chloe is young, and yet to fully mature, and like a fine wine she needs time to come into her own. When they discover the cafeteria is under threat of closure, this unlikely trio must band together to save it. I couldn’t have loved this book more, the pages turned with ease as I devoured the novel in a couple of sittings, the dialogue was additive, with a mix of humour and wit, and the story was written with a good pace, never leaving me feeling bogged down within the pages. Kate, TAS, 5 Stars

If you have ever been served at a hospital cafe you know…..there is usually one nice old lady who works there…and one mean one!!! This is the setting for The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital. Loved the dynamics between the two main characters and the younger one who pops up, Chloe. Some sad moments, but some absolutely hilarious ones too!!! They really come together when the cafe is to be shut down and they have to work together to save it. Loved the whole book! Highly recommend! Sarah, VIC, 5 Stars

I have seen so many great things about Joanna Nell’s books but this is the first one I have actually read. I am so glad I did. I really enjoyed the characters in this book and the antics they got up to. I actually laughed out loud a few times as they were pretty funny ladies. All different but blended well. The cafeteria was being threatened with closure but the three ladies put up a hard fight together. It was a very easy read book that I found hard to put down. Thanks to Better Reading for this great book and I look forward to many more from this author. Renee, QLD, 5 Stars

I want to work in the Cafe of St Jude’s! I really enjoyed this book, a comfortable read without too many twists – just what you need in lockdown. The characters were believable and I could relate to them, I almost felt they could be friends. The location was a mystery, but I was trying to picture where it could be and was so pleased that although the ending wasn’t as expected it was good. I have enjoyed other Joanna Nell books and didn’t feel it strayed too far from the essence of her other writing, if you liked those, I am sure you will like this. Rowena, NSW, 5 Stars

I introduce to you The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital, a storyline that flowed easily, characters that are truly charismatic, a setting well planned and together, a lovely read is born. We are taught not to judge too quickly, believe too blindly or to give up too easily. I am pleasantly surprised to be able sit and place thoughts on this new story from Joanna Nell. A storyline as believable as is our own, characters I fell in love with and thought of throughout the day when I wasn’t reading about their latest feats, a friendship bond they had consisting of vastly different ages and backgrounds, they work and fight together within their little hospital cafeteria, the antics along the way and how they, Hilary, Joy and Chloe, together as a team, handle obstructions and work for a cause. I really have no criticism here at all, the author made me feel like I was there and a part of the story, a part of the comings and going’s of St Judes’s, from laughing to reaching for a tissue to wipe a tear. I thoroughly recommend Joanna Nell’s latest. Jayne, QLD, 5 Stars

Pour yourself a cup of tea, find yourself a comfy spot and sit and read this heart warming novel. The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital is delightful, it transports you, the descriptive text gives you a great sense of the characters, not just how they look, but how they feel. I enjoyed the ranges of ages in this book, from the Year 12 Chloe, to the middle aged colourful Joy and to the seventy something Hillary. The difficulties they each faced were real and you felt for them. I enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it. Julie, VIC, 5 Stars

St Jude’s cafeteria has been a hospital institution for a very long time. When modernisation comes knocking and closure is threatened an unlikely trio becomes an unstoppable force. Chloe, the young volunteer and unenthusiastic future medical student joins Joy, orange haired, multicoloured clothed and of unrelentingly happy disposition and Hilary the force behind the counter to fight for their cause. A great read an uplifting story for all to enjoy. Wendy, SA, 5 Stars

Sometimes there is nothing better than a cuppa and a great book. The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital does hit the spot! Reminds me of playing bingo when I was young and the old ladies ran the cafeteria and had the best home made cakes. They were lovely unless you sat in their bingo chair. This book has so many great characters like that. All with their flaws and great friction between characters. The humour is great and the story too. I have to read others. I love how the simple job of running a cafeteria at a hospital feels like the most important part of the hospital! I did not think I would enjoy a book about elderly people in a hospital, but the characters and plot make it an emotional ride to enjoy with a cup of tea! Raymond, WA, 4 Stars

As I sit down with a cup of tea, I felt it the perfect moment to write my review on The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital. I was lucky enough to be chosen to review this novel and I am very grateful for this opportunity. “Put the kettle on” – one of my favourite lines in the book and in life too. What problem can’t be solved when you start with a lovely cup of tea? Hilary, Joy and Chloe, a very unlikely trio but they are all brought together by one common ground – the cafeteria. They are each very different characters but all have their individual trials and tribulations to work through along with the potential closure of their beloved cafeteria. Hilary, who is described as having more bark than her bite, a very accurate description for a woman who deep down is a big softie. Dear Joy, the beautiful quirky grandma we all wish we could have and Chloe, a young and somewhat reserved girl trying to navigate her next chapter in life with school quickly coming to a finish. A light hearted and heartwarming novel with humour throughout, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading fiction or anyone who loves a spot of tea. Thanks again for the opportunity! Amanda, VIC, 4 Stars

I enjoyed reading this novel. As the story unfolded, I got a better understanding of the characters and their motivation for volunteering at St Jude’s. A pleasant, light-hearted read. Luciana, WA, 4 Stars

I am a huge Joanna Nell fan. I love her character based heartfelt novels. There was a lot to love about this novel and I had an excellent time reading it. Delightful, heart-warming and friendly to say the least. When I read a Joanna Nell book, I take my time for every page is filled with wit, humour, wisdom and creative phrases that make me stop and think. Joanna Nell’s new novel was as delightful as a warm cuppa tea by a cosy fire. Jessica, NSW, 4 Stars

Thank you Better Reading for the opportunity to read The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital by Joanna Nell. This book is a mixture of laugh out loud moments and sometimes a little teary moment. This is a heart warming tale of 3 very different women, brought together by different situations, working together to save their cafeteria. Lovable characters that make you want to get to know them and help them out with their different situations. Highly recommend. Judy, NSW, 4 Stars

Yet another wonderful story written by Joanna Nell. Delightful, heart-warming and friendly to say the least. The story of three very different women, volunteering their time for three very different reasons. What could possibly go wrong? Or even more to the point what could possibly go right? This book is a joy to read, the characters, Hilary, Joy and Chloe are a joy to discover and this book will make you laugh and cry all at the same time. This is the story of friendship, strength, kindness, courage and family. The book is laid out in chapters that each represent what is happening at that moment in time, each with its own crazy and catchy titles. It is a good, honest book full of what life is truly like, full of the interactions of different people and how we form friendships and relationships with the most unlikely people (or so we think). This book, as with Joanna’s other books, is so easy to read, so much fun and so very addictive, just like a pot of tea (don’t forget to warm the pot as it’s the little touches that count) and a good old fashioned scone! Donna, TAS, 4 Stars

A lovely story about the relationships of three very different women who come together to save the hospital cafeteria that means so much to them. Through this project they develop a unique bond that helps each one of them become closer and also helps deal with their individual issues. The author has written an enjoyable story where you feel attached to the characters. Heather, SA, 4 Stars

Who doesn’t love a good “stick-it-to-the-man” book, especially when it involves an intriguing trio of woman like this book. The characters were fabulous in this book and I love how varied and different they were, but yet united to save their beloved cafeteria. It was a really sweet book and was well written. I enjoyed the back stories of the three characters and was particularly drawn to Joy’s story. From stick on eye lashes to a wannabe doctor who is scared of the sight of blood – this book had it all. I love how they decided to stand up to the bigger guy, if more people did this, the world would be a better place. An enjoyable read, one that will appeal to a wide group of readers I’m sure. Stacey, VIC, 4 Stars

‘Tea Ladies’ was a slowly paced, predictable but a pleasant read for me. This pace was probably due to the fact that two of the three main characters are in their twilight years. Hilary, the manager of the cafeteria, runs a very tight ship. She has lost everything through a divorce and has turned into a grumpy soul. Joy, a volunteer at the cafeteria, can’t come to terms with her present life but she has a good heart. The youngest of the trio, Chloe, fits in well with the older women but has problems in her family life. The three women find a common goal in trying to save the cafeteria which in turn helps solve their personal problems. ‘Tea Ladies’ has all the ingredients that a good novel needs with a satisfactory ending that readers will be happy with. I was expecting a pinch more lightheartedness which would’ve made this a perfect bake for me. I appreciate the work that the author put into her writing. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this novel. The addition of a tea bag was a nice touch. Sharon, ACT, 4 Stars

There was a lot to love about this novel and I had an excellent time reading it. The story of a hospital cafeteria being manned by elderly (and not so elderly) volunteers appealed to me as I worked as a hospital orderly a lifetime ago and recognised the setting. The characters were all very entertaining (if perhaps a little similar) and the story had some excellent drama, humour and, most of all, heart. The seniors were really well-crafted and believable, often authors make their senior citizens overly loveable and hilarious and lose sight of the reality of aging. These elderly women sounded and behaved like elderly women without ever veering toward stereotype or wackiness. The same goes for teenager Chloe who reminded me a lot of what it felt like to be just coming into adulthood with all the awkwardness and weirdness that entails. There were a few odd stops and starts in the plot where things seemed to happen just to advance the plot or there were a few coincidences that were rather convenient but, by the time these happened, I was invested enough in the characters to overlook the issues and race on through the story. Immense fun! Richard, VIC, 4 Stars

A great story, the first one of this authors I’ve read and I was so glad I did. I sat down with a cup of tea made from the bag I got with this advanced copy and spent the afternoon absorbed in the story. Jessica, NSW, 4 Stars

The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital was a book full of lonely characters not realising the friendships they ready for. The 3 main characters once they opened their hearts to each other were all ready to move on with living their best lives. Deanne, VIC, 3 Stars

It’s always refreshing when the world is full of doom and gloom to retreat to a light, feel-good book like this one. There were some more serious moments, but the very likeable characters and the many funny mishaps leaves the reader feeling happy, warm and fuzzy. I only wish I could meet the tea ladies and try one of Joy’s delicious sounding scones. Many thanks to the publishers, author and Better Reading for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Rebecca, QLD, 3 Stars

The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital is an easy, fun, light-hearted read with likeable characters. A story of three ladies who stand up for old fashioned values and nostalgia, with a few laughs along the way. A perfect read to accompany a cup of tea and a scone with jam and cream. Jody, QLD, 3 Stars

The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital is Joanna Nell’s fourth novel. The book follows the stories of three ladies, Hillary, Joy and Chloe volunteering in the Marjorie Marshall Memorial Cafeteria at St Jude’s Hospital. They all have their own stories and family issues but become the best of friends and band together to fight back against the Hospital when a new age fancy eatery, ‘Platter’, starts up business, threatening the future of the cafeteria. The book is a light-hearted, humorous, enjoyable, fast read that will leave you missing the characters. Brenda, NSW, 3 Stars

The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital is a delightful, feel-good story with flawed, but loveable characters. The story lines are somewhat predictable, but nevertheless, engaging and most enjoyable. A heart-warming novel which will ‘spark joy’. The addition of a complimentary tea bag was a welcome and cheering surprise. Thanks to Joanna Nell, Better Reading and Hachette Australia for the ARC. Charlene, WA, 3 Stars

Reviews

Unexpected Friendships and Joy: Read an Extract from the Tea Ladies of St Jude's Hospital

Review | Extract

4 November 2021

Unexpected Friendships and Joy: Read an Extract from the Tea Ladies of St Jude's Hospital

    Heartfelt and Wise: Read Our Review of The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital by Joanna Nell

    Review | Our Review

    1 November 2021

    Heartfelt and Wise: Read Our Review of The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital by Joanna Nell

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                  Publisher details

                  The Tea Ladies of St Jude's Hospital
                  Author
                  Joanna Nell
                  Publisher
                  Hachette
                  Genre
                  Fiction
                  Released
                  29 September, 2021
                  ISBN
                  9780733642906

                  Synopsis

                  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
                  About the author

                  Joanna Nell

                  Joanna Nell was born in the UK and studied medicine at Cambridge and Oxford universities. Her short fiction has won multiple awards and has been published in various journals and literary anthologies. A former ship's doctor and now a GP with a passion for women's health and care of the elderly, Joanna is drawn to writing character-driven stories for women in their prime, creating young-at-heart characters who are not afraid to break the rules and defy society's expectations of ageing. Her first novel, THE SINGLE LADIES OF JACARANDA RETIREMENT VILLAGE, was a national bestseller. Joanna lives on Sydney's Northern Beaches with her husband and two teenage children.

                  Books by Joanna Nell

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