Argh! I wrote this review two days ago and the internet ATE IT. Ate it right up. It disappeared into thin air. So...here we go with take 2!
I downloaded The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens from Audible.com back when I was closing my subscription with them. I had a bunch of credits to spend on audiobooks, so I downloaded about 10 to get to whenever I had time. I have no idea where I got the recommendation for this particular book, but it must have resonated with me because I have three or four more books by her sitting in iTunes for me to listen to when I get around to it. I've seen other reviewers compare Owens's books to Maeve Binchy, if that's any indication for you (having never read Binchy, it didn't give me a clue).
The story centers on a tea house (Muldoon's Tea Rooms) in Belfast, Ireland, and all of the people whose lives pass through and are affected by the tea house. There's Penny and Daniel Stanley, the proprietors of the tea house whose marriage is on the rocks. There's starving artist Brenda Brown who lives in an apartment next door and comes in to drink tea and write love letters to Nicholas Cage. Henry starts coming more often to get away from his wife's obssessive re-enactments of Victorian literature and ends up falling in love with Rose, the florist across the street from the tea house. Sadie comes in to comfort herself with Daniel's delicious desserts when her husband is mean to her (which is often).
They're a lovely cast of characters - compelling, with believeable quirks and struggles. While I was listening to it, I thought it was a little slow and melodramatic, but two months later, I still remember the characters very fondly. I got attached to these people! Brenda and Sadie were my favorites, but I really enjoyed the entire cast. I don't wonder what happened to them, though, because Owens did a really good job of giving closure to all the stories. The voice actor read with a lilting Irish brogue, which was quite appropriate for the story. This is possibly the first time I have liked a book more two months after I finished it than I did right after I was done. In November, I would have given this three of five stars, but now, I give it four!