It was a happy choice - nothing wrong with a shorter book, and in this case it provided the perfect blend of light hearted and acid humour, with just enough sympathy for the mostly awful characters to make them human, and correspondingly likeable, rather than caricature. She’s acerbic, but not unkind.
Mary Essex is one of several pen names that Ursula Bloom used. At one point she was in the Guinness book of records as the most published author in the world - with something over 500 works to her credit. The afterword (by all round brilliant series advisor, Simon Thomas) tells me that Mary Essex titles are a departure from the majority of Bloom’s work, which are straight romance. It’s this that makes her feel like such a good accidental choice for international women’s day; to write so many books is impressively business like.
Every time I’ve looked up today it’s been to see another list or montage of inspirational women who have done incredible things - which I love, but I also love the idea of Ursula Bloom getting up each morning, and getting to work, doing it well, but maybe not worrying too much about it being art or genius or whatever. Which is relatable (even if writing over 500 books is absolutely over achieving).
Even better, ‘Tea is so Intoxicating’ is a funny book about marriages not really working, people being stubborn and behaving badly, and devious Viennese cake cooks upsetting everything, as David, who does not know what he’s doing, wants to turn his cottage into a tea shop, much to his wife’s dismay. David is not the man to listen to advice or criticism, but he is the man to stir up feeling against them in the village. The lady of the manor is up in arms, the local publican is up in arms, the vicar is stuck in the middle, there are ex husbands getting in the way, and like the rest of the village, we as readers get to thoroughly enjoy the whole tangle.
This series is really shaping up to be something special, everything so far has been interesting, slightly unexpected, thoroughly enjoyable, and individual. It’s a remarkably high bar which the next two titles (Diana Tutton’s ‘Mamma’ and E. M. Delafield’s ‘Tension’) look set to meet with ease.