I’m always on the lookout for tea books to read. The Last Tea Bowl Thief was recommended in a Facebook group thread (I can’t remember which one). I was intrigued because it’s rare to find a fiction book that involves tea. The title also grabbed my attention because I have a small teaware problem, as we all know. That is about as much as I knew before reading but my Kindle was running on empty so I downloaded this from my epically long to-be-read list.
What Is It About?
Fiction book reviews are hard to write because I don’t want to spoil the ending. That being said, I’ll try my best to give you a general idea of what the book is about without giving it all away.
The Last Tea Bowl Thief follows a tea bowl named Hikitoru and the people whose lives it changes over the course of history. We meet a talented potter who struggles to find his way, a young woman fighting to save the family business, and a harried graduate student desperate to finish her dissertation.
The story flashes back to feudal Japan before bring us to post-war and modern Tokyo. The characters do not seem related at first, especially across the centuries, but they are very much connected. Your sense of what kind of story this is shifts each time the perspective changes. It starts as a historical drama and evolves into a rather thrilling mystery.
This quote from the book made me stop in my tracks and contemplate exactly why I love my teaware so much. It made me want to seek out a Shigariaki tea bowl (the style of pottery that this story centers on).
Would I Recommend It?
I would absolutely recommend The Last Tea Bowl Thief to anyone, even those who aren’t necessarily interested in teaware. The writing style is engaging and full of visual details that bring places and time periods to life. What could better than a teaware-related who done it? This book is fictional, but it was obvious that a ton of research went into every aspect.
The characters were well written and completely loveable. I found myself needing to know what happened to them whenever the perspective shifted to follow someone else. There were quite a few arcs that surprised me by the end of the book.
Jonelle included an author’s note at the end where she listed what was real and what wasn’t, names she had changed out of respect for certain temples and areas. There is also a list of Japanese phrases that are used in the book. She is obviously passionate about Japan and its culture. She even blogs about her favorite places in Tokyo. I will definitely be bookmarking the page in case I ever get to visit there.
I usually read during my commute, and each day I was almost disappointed to have reached my destination. I just couldn’t put it down! A book this size would usually take me a while, but I finished it in less than a week.
Have you read The Last Tea Bowl Thief? What should I read next? Let me know in the comments below!