Thursday, January 19, 2023

Book Review: Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop

What would you do if you had the gift of seeing into the future? Would you embrace it, or would you run away from it? In the book Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop, the lead character decided to do the latter, with disastrous results.

Image Credit: Penguin Random House

A follow-up to Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, Roselle Lim now takes readers away from San Francisco and moves readers to the city of Paris, where Vanessa joins her Aunt Evelyn to take control of the powers she wants to break away from. I loved reading Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, and I could not help but want to read this book when I heard that it was the next in the series (of sorts).  

Vanessa, an accountant, is someone who can see the future from tea leaves. She does not have complete control of her abilities, and sometimes that makes her predictions come out in the most inopportune moments, leaving her with painful headaches and embarrassment as a result. Frustrated about her lack of control over powers that she never wanted in the first place, she finally agrees to be mentored by her Aunt Evelyn, who brings her to Paris to help her open her tea shop. 

The book goes on to share a lot about Paris as Vanessa visits various tourist sites with her newfound love interest, Marco. As with the first book, there is a focus on the food, making me want to eat whenever something is mentioned. There was also an emphasis on the Asian family setup and how the extended family is a wide network of people that may meddle with your personal life a lot but are also the people you can lean on when you need them the most. The first book did not have this family element as much even if the lead was also Asian, but that was understandable because she had lost her family by the time her story begins.

One thing that I took an interest in about Vanessa’s story was her dilemma about who she was and what her path in life was supposed to be. On one end she was an accountant, something that she was good at. On another, she was also expected to take control of her ability as a fortune teller, something that runs in the family. Then, there was also the question of whether she wanted either of those aspects of her to be her life. I think that at one point or another, this is something that many of us have thought about: do we do things only because we are good at them or because we can do them? Do we do things only because it is what is expected of us? Will we allow ourselves to live with those expectations and settle for things we are simply capable of doing well or do we put our foot down and try to forge our own path, doing something that we want to do? I think that this would sum up Vanessa’s journey in this book. I don’t want to go into detail to avoid spoilers, but that was her story. 

I love Vanessa because she believed in herself even if other people did not. When the matchmaker told her she did not have a destined love in her life, she refused to believe it. When her family told her to take control of her abilities, she fought hard to not make it part of her life, even if it meant that she had to find her path the hard way. When no one believed that love was possible for certain people, she believed enough in love to help make it happen. And even when she wanted her love to work out, she was also strong enough to put her foot down and walk away when she knew she needed to. She was stubborn, but I think that she was stubborn in a good way.

It was also interesting to get a story about Aunt Evelyn, who was also featured briefly as one of the characters in the first book. It was nice to learn more about her and her story in this one. I’m hoping that some characters from these previous books are also in the next. I’d have to read it soon to find out.

There were some lines from the book that I took note of, mostly because these are things I have heard from other people in real life: 

When you love someone, their love should always be more than yours, even if it’s only by a spoonful.

I think this is something that I heard from older people when I was in high school and just starting to date. I was always advised that it would be better if I found someone who loved me more than I loved him. I think there was even a local movie that had this line too. I’m not sure I’d agree with it, because it feels that you’re constantly trying to check with the other about who loves the other the most. I would like to think that love is a give and take, sometimes one person gives and loves more, but when that other one is lacking, it is the other that gives more in return. I’m not a fan of keeping score, so this is questionable for me. 

Falling in love, regardless of whether it works out, is something everyone should experience once.

I agree with this. I think that falling in love, with all its highs and lows, can help you grow as a person if you let it. There’s so much you can learn from it, and there are so many ways you can expand your heart to love more by experiencing it. 

Did I love Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop? Yes, I enjoyed the book, but if I were to rate this along with the first book, I love Natalie’s Book of Luck and Fortune more. It’s still worth the read, but the first book was better than this. 

Oh, and if someone does read the book because of this post, can you please explain to me why the title is that way if Vanessa technically doesn’t own the tea shop in Paris? I’d appreciate the insight!


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