Read The Vintage Teacup Club Online

Authors: Vanessa Greene

Tags: #General, #Fiction

The Vintage Teacup Club

BOOK: The Vintage Teacup Club
2.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Vanessa Greene hosted her first tea party at eight, to a select gathering of stuffed bears. Since then she’s trawled antiques markets from Portobello to Paris, Brighton to Buenos Aires, to build her teacup collection and feed her addiction to all things vintage. She still loves an excuse to bring friends together – but nowadays her guests are less shy about trying the cake.

Vanessa is in her thirties and lives in north London with her partner.
The Vintage Teacup Club
is her first novel.

Copyright

Published by Hachette Digital

ISBN: 978-0-7481-3254-6

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © Vanessa Greene 2012

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

Hachette Digital

Little, Brown Book Group

100 Victoria Embankment

London, EC4Y 0DY

www.hachette.co.uk

For my mum and sister.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Caroline Hogg, for making this novel happen and for her creative input at every stage.

To the outstanding team at Sphere, in particular to Manpreet Grewal and Rebecca Saunders for their dedication, skill and enthusiasm from day one, and to Andy Hine for believing in the power of teacups. Thanks also to Andy Coles, Jen Wilson, Carleen Peters, Madeleine Feeny, Kate Hibbert, and to Sian Wilson for the cover.

I’m extremely grateful to Emma Stonex and Sheelagh Alabaster, whose feedback on early drafts was invaluable, and to Caroline Hardman at Hardman & Swainson, for her expert guidance. Thanks also to Kim Lines, Becky Bradley, Ellie Jacob and James Gill – and in particular to my niece Eloise – for their insights and support.

To the lovely brides who supplied tales of their wedding day joys and hiccups – thank you!

Finally, thanks to James – for the laughter, inspiration
and Yorkshire tea.

Contents

Cover

About the Author

Copyright

Dedication

Acknowledgements

How We Began

Prologue

Chapter 1: Maggie

Chapter 2: Jenny

Chapter 3: Alison

Chapter 4: Jenny

Chapter 5: Maggie

Chapter 6: Alison

Chapter 7: Jenny

Chapter 8: Maggie

Chapter 9: Alison

Chapter 10: Jenny

Chapter 11: Jenny

Secret Histories

Chapter 12: Maggie

Chapter 13: Alison

Chapter 14: Jenny

Chapter 15: Alison

Chapter 16: Maggie

Chapter 17: Jenny

Chapter 18: Jenny

Chapter 19: Maggie

Chapter 20: Alison

Chapter 21: Jenny

Chapter 22: Alison

Chapter 23: Maggie

Chapter 24: Jenny

Chapter 25: Alison

Chapter 26: Maggie

Blitz Spirit

Chapter 27: Alison

Chapter 28: Jenny

Chapter 29: Maggie

Chapter 30: Jenny

Chapter 31: Alison

Chapter 32: Jenny

Chapter 33: Maggie

Chapter 34: Jenny

Chapter 35: Maggie

Chapter 36: Alison

Chapter 37: Jenny

Chapter 38: Maggie

Chapter 39: Jenny

Chapter 40: Jenny

Epilogue

How We Began

(May–June)

Prologue

Jenny

Gold-edged, delicate, almost
translucent – four
perfect teacups sit on four perfect saucers and a small and shapely teapot gleams in between them. The tea service seems to light up the open boot of the bottle-green Morris Minor, and as I reach out a tentative hand to touch the china I’m pretty sure I can hear a gospel choir singing out.
Yes
. Here, in the hum and bustle of Charlesworth’s car boot sale, the Saturday bargain hunt that brings the residents of our old market town together, we’ve found each other at last.

‘Anything in particular you’re after, love?’ comes a gentle, welcome voice over my shoulder. My
lord
, is that a matching milk jug and sugar bowl I can see nestled among the yellowing newspaper? I peel
a corner back to check. I’m right, and they all have the same pretty forget-me-not pattern below the gold rim. I’m transfixed. I wrestle my gaze away from the teacups and turn towards the voice, warm smile already in place – less a charm offensive to kick off the negotiations, more that I simply can’t stop grinning like a fool. I meet the stall-holder’s world-weary eyes, grey-blue under unruly brows. I expect my hazel ones look a bit manic – because in my head I’m desperately trying to decide on a maximum price for something I’ve fallen budget-defyingly in love with. Then, before we’ve even exchanged a word, I see the old man’s gaze drift over my shoulder. Hang on …

‘Well now, not a customer all morning and then along come three lovely ladies at once.’

I swivel round and see that two pairs of elegant hands have crept onto my teaset – touching the precious cups that, once I’d bought them, would make everything in my life just right. The women look up in surprise, drawing back from the open boot in unison, still clasping a teacup each. One cup is held protectively by a willowy redhead in a cream silk vest and khaki slacks, the other by a curvy brunette in a gingham dress and red lipstick, her hair pinned back in 1940s victory rolls with just a few curls escaping.

‘But …’ I start.
I was here first
, I long to protest. But then I see the expressions on their
faces and I can’t bring myself to say the words. They both look every bit as forlorn to see me as I am to see them.

‘Listen,’ the redhead says, composing herself and fixing the stallholder with an assertive glare. He’s clearly about eighty, and I worry he might faint if a conflict escalates. ‘It looks like you’ll be going home with less stock and fuller pockets when you leave this car park today.’ Her green eyes sparkle, and I flinch – how on earth can I compete with this cream-silk-clad professional? She’s a crockery
tiger
. Retro brunette seems to be losing her nerve, she’s fiddling with her chunky red necklace and glancing around – though something tells me that she might have the cold hard cash to come up on the inside. And me … I look down at my worn jeans and Converse, suddenly aware of the girlishness of my blonde ponytail and petite figure, complete with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cleavage. I feel twenty-six going on sixteen. Jenny Davis the amateur; my art deco engagement ring the only sign I’ve even dipped a toe in the antiques market before. But I do have
passion
– and that’s supposed to count for something, isn’t it? Even so, I can’t help fearing that neither my purchasing prowess nor the contents of my purse are going to be hefty enough to land me this teaset of dreams. I hope, at least, that the others can’t see that my heart is breaking a little bit.

‘But ladies,’ says the redhead, her auburn waves catching the light as she turns
to face us, ‘something tells me that taking this set home would mean really quite a lot to each one of us. Am I right?’

I’m so shocked by this curveball from the tiger, I just nod dumbly – tears prickling at my eyes. Instinctively I look back at the set. Yes, the sugar tongs need a good polish, but that some how makes the whole thing even more perfect.

‘Yes, it looks like we’re all keen,’ I finally pipe up, turning towards the bemused pensioner. ‘Could you put a hold on the tea service for an hour?’

That was how our summer
started.

Chapter 1
Maggie

‘Two hundred bunches of cornflowers – yes, two hundred, ten blooms in each bunch.’ Maggie Hawthorne rested the phone against her shoulder, tipping her head slightly as she tied her auburn hair back with a band.

‘And I’ll also need a lot of wicker … Oh, you know a good supplier – great! It’s for giant croquet hoops, woven round with marguerites … and matching oversized mallets. Yes, I know, but this isn’t an ordinary wedding – OK, I do know it’s Sunday …’ she breathed out slowly, trying to stay patient. ‘Shall I send you an email and you can look at it tomorrow? Right, no, no, I understand. Let’s speak then.’

Maggie sat back in her garden swing seat, settled her gin and tonic on the side table and
brought her Netbook onto her lap. She tapped out an email to the Dutch supplier with the key points from last Friday’s meeting with her new clients, Lucy and Jack. Finding the teaset yesterday at the car boot had sparked off a lot of ideas and she could now picture exactly how the wedding would look. She just wanted to get started. But although she had the whole of today stretching in front of her, empty time, it seemed she’d have to wait for the start of the working week until she could get the details she needed.

BOOK: The Vintage Teacup Club
2.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Buchanan Says No by Jonas Ward
First Ladies by Caroli, Betty
Dark Prince by Christine Feehan
Organized to Death by Jan Christensen
Caligula: A Biography by Aloys Winterling
Dragonslayer: A Novel by Wayland Drew
Somebody Somewhere by Donna Williams
Dirt Road Home by Watt Key