Teatime for the Firefly

TFTF Cover


Publication Date: September 24, 2013

  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
  • ISBN-10: 0778315479
  • ISBN-13: 9780778315476
SHONA2672329329_credit PHYLLIS LANE
Photo: Phyllis Lane

Shona Patel, the daughter of an Assam tea planter, drew upon her personal observations and experiences to create the vivid characters and setting for TEATIME FOR THE FIREFLY. An honors graduate in English literature from Calcutta University, Ms. Patel has won several awards for creative writing and is a trained graphic and architectural designer. TEATIME FOR THE FIREFLY is her debut novel.


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Latest Reviews (click on link to read full review)

“Patel’s remarkable debut effortlessly transports readers back to India on the brink of independence, with intriguing details about the tea industry in Assam while Patel deftly incorporates into the story add yet another layer of richness…enthralling characters, exotic setting, and evocative writing style.”Booklist, starred review

“Debut author Patel offers a stunning, panoramic view of a virtually unknown time and place—the colonial British tea plantations of Assam—while bringing them to life through a unique character’s perspective.” Kirkus Reviews

“TEATIME FOR THE FIREFLY is a refreshing, fascinating debut novel by a woman who writes with humor and pathos that comes from experience.” Book Reporter

“Patel incorporates so much without weighing down her humane tale. This book excites the palate with its depth and fullness.” Historical Novel Society

“The historical detail makes this debut novel a rich reading experience.” Library Journal

“With lyrical prose and exquisite detail, Shona Patel’s novel brings life to the rich and rugged landscape of India’s tea plantations, harboring a sweet love story at its core.”Shilpi Somaya Gowda, New York Times bestselling author of Secret Daughter

“This gem of a novel is a perfect read for anyone looking for a deep, engrossing tale.”  All About Romance

The story ebbs and flows gracefully, sure to keep readers actively engaged and fervently enticed. Simply stated, Teatime for the Firefly is a true treasure” ****    RT Book Reviews

It seems Shona Patel has tamed the English language into complete submission and can do whatever she likes with it…Her seamless writing is an absolute pleasure to read. This is one of those books so vivid, it’s as though you are watching a movie, not reading a book. Mumabytes

Immersive and deeply romantic, Shona Patel’s debut novel is a passport into the rich culture of Assam in northeast India Reading the Past

Teatime for the Firefly is absolutely mesmerizing. The writing provokes such vivid and beautiful imagery that it is easy to get lost in the language and lose track of time. www.luxuryreading.com



Library Thing 


Friday Nirvana (Amodini)

This spectacular book is a gorgeous, gorgeous read; I’d consider it one of the best books of the year. Highly recommended.>READ MORE

Linda’s Book Journey  

It warmed me, just like a good cup of tea> READ MORE


Teatime for the Firefly is a beautifully written novel. The characters are very well-developed and the vivid descriptions of the landscape make you feel as though you are right there in the story >READ MORE

Cleopatra Loves Books

If like me you are drawn by the beautiful book cover then rest assured this is one book that can be judged by it. >READ MORE

 Popcorn Reads

The level of authenticity made Teatime for the Firefly come alive in my hands while I was reading it…my emotions got quite a workout before I finished this moving novel. >READ MORE

Book Club Friday (Jennie Shaw’s Blog)

Within the very first line, the mega-talented Shona Patel not only introduced the MC, Layla, but did so in such a profound way that I knew I was in for a great read… and from that moment on, Ms. Patel had my undivided attention.>READ MORE

 Ashley LeBourveau

Teatime for the Firefly was an incredible look into a time and place that are both underplayed in fiction, and one that I would recommend to anyone>READ MORE

Diana Douglas

Like a lot of historical fiction fans, I’m constantly on the lookout for new authors, and by the time I was halfway through Shona Patel’s Teatime for the Firefly, I realized I’d found a gem>READ MORE

Silent Thought

Shona Patel’s storytelling and writing ability is so powerful that it transports you and you can’t get out of that magical place. While reading the book, I felt nostalgic for an era I didn’t even live in. Is it even possible? >READ MORE

The characters are deftly-drawn and believable, the stories at times funny, at times frightening. One of the best historical novels I’ve read this year, Teatime for the Firefly is full immersion in the experience of a place, time and culture. I highly recommend it. >READ MORE

Enchanted Prose- Reviewed by Lorraine Kleinwaks 

The only thing richer than the sumptuous, lifting prose would be to join Layla, Manik, and Dadamoshai, who we come to know and immensely like, on their verandah reading while sipping a cup of Assam’s world famous tea >READ MORE 

42 thoughts on “Teatime for the Firefly

  1. Shona Patel’s book is a most enjoyable, easy read novel. She brings life to her characters so that the reader can identify with them. The story line follows a young Indian couple as they make their way assimilating in the 1940s British run tea plantations. Having spent time in the tea gardens, I can attest that Shona has depicted the life there accurately.
    Although the book is set in the mid-forties, the garden life has not changed today.
    Shona’s style of moving between historical details and the romance of Manik and Layla is cleverly done. She mixes the poignant with the humour and leaves the reader wanting more. I wish her every success with her first novel.


  2. Hi Shona,

    I love your book! I loved to read it, it is so well written – I could see everything just like in a movie! (I hope one day there will really be a movie based on your book : )

    I loved the story as well, and there was also a personal touch for me – I have an Indian friend, a young girl whom I got to know via our work. She is passionate about everything in life and decided not to have an arranged marriage as her parents planned but marry for love. She has a happy marriage but her family does not accept her husband and it’s a difficult situation (but at least they are still in touch and my friend still tries to change the situation with her family).

    Therefore, your book for me was not only about those past times you chose to write about but also about current days, and I think it’s a beautiful thing when a book can connect past and present, especially in such a sensitive and picturesque way as yours.

    With best wishes,


    1. Hi Rita, It’s so nice you could personally connect to Teatime and it makes my day to know how much you enjoyed it. That was a very sweet comment. Thank you so much! 🙂 Shona


  3. One of the best books I’ve read! Warmed my heart…I enjoyed it so much. Thank you, Shona. I cannot wait for more such magic from you.


  4. What a wonderful read. I felt I was right there in the jungle with Layla, an endearing character. I enjoyed hearing you speak at the Fountain Hills library and am looking forward to reading the grandfather’s story.


  5. One of your adopted parents (my dad) bought me a copy of your book and I’ve just finished reading it. I had to hide it from him so that I could read it first, and I’m sure he’s going to love it as much as I did. What a very well told and touching tale. I was in awe of your writerly skill as I read it, and very impressed by the lovely lightness of touch. Although I only know you through the blogosphere your voice shone through and it reminded me very much of your amusing blog articles. Many congratulations, Shona, you’ve done a magnificient job and I’m not in the least surprised that the book’s doing so well. Are you working on a follow-up yet, by any chance? I can’t wait to read more. 🙂


    1. Hi Lorna, What a sweet compliment. I am so glad you liked it and please let me know what my adopted dad thinks when he’s done. I love both your (my) parents. Hugs to you all! Oh and yes, I am working on the second book – furiously- which is why I have disappeared from the blogsphere. xx


      1. Thank you Shona, I’ll pass that on to our dad. 🙂 I can well imagine how busy you are with other writing, and in that case blogging has to take a back seat. Does the second book feature any of the characters from the first, or is it something completely different?


  6. Hello Shona,
    I just finished reading your book. As I had spent part of my childhood in Assam and had visited the tea plantations Teatime with fireflies brought back many good and a few scary memories. It is a very well written book and the characters are vivid and lifelike. As I work in a library I told our purchaser of adult fictions that this is one of the best Indian fiction that I have read so far. As I am Indian too I do get to read the Indian books that we have in our collection. Please write a second novel which will have at least some of the characters of this book. Also, I do feel one day your book will be made into a movie. I will look forward to that.


  7. Hi Shona…I found your novel in the new books section of my library in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and it kept me til the early hours. Loved the historical backdrop, the ins and outs of tea garden life, the feisty heroine and the sizzling romance. It made me laugh out loud several times too! Await your next novel with baited breath. Congrats!


    1. Hi Sandra,
      I never know whether to apologize or say “woohoo” when my book keeps readers up till the wee hours! Thank you for your compliments. It came at a time when I needed it the most (I was going through a tough patch with my writing) so thank you x 2. The second book is coming along nicely now that I am over the hump. Can’t wait for you to read it. Cheers!


  8. Hi shona.
    I really really loved this book. I will be honest, I had my reasons for picking up this book. I am currently working on my final year dissertation where I am focusing on the post-colonial impact on the tea culture in Assam. I was therefore more interested in the historical background of the book. I must say i am completely bowled over by your writing..the easy flow of your words and the rich historical sub-text makes for an incredibly fulfilling read. I can’t wait to read your next book.

    Also i have a request..since you have grown up in the tea-plantations..you would be able to correctly map the cultural change that takes place in the post-colonial context. It would really help me if you could give me some of your observations. I want to trace the changing cultural patterns in the plantations. I am really looking forward to your response. I also happen to be acquainted to a friend of yours who suggested that i write to you. Mamlu auntie suggested this book to me. I am really awaiting your response. 🙂


    1. Hi Amrita,
      So happy you liked Teatime. Yes, Mamlu is one of my dearest friends. She’s a tea garden memsahib to boot! As regards your request, I am not sure I am qualified to answers your questions which may be quite academic from what I understand (what a fascinating topic for your dissertation BTW!) but after learning more I may be able to direct you to the right sources. Good luck with everything and thanks for stopping by my blog. Cheers!
      xx Shona


  9. I have read and enjoyed ” Tea time for the firefly”; I would love to read any other title ritten by Shona Patel


  10. The best reads are the ones that take you on an adventure you wish would never end. Your book definitely did that for me. I’m looking forward to reading SONG OF THE FLAME TREE.


    1. Valerie, If I can take you as my friend to someplace you have never been and make you want to stay there, I think I have done my job as a writer. You made me happy today. Thank you. SONG OF THE FLAME TREE will be here July 2015. These are exciting times. Cheers!


  11. The book is so beautifully written it was an enjoyment to read. I finished it in less than a week. It made me travel to Assam and see the world through Layla’s eyes. Fantastic flow and style. One of the things I loved about it is that it was so easy to read and all of a sudden I’m part of that world. The cover design and the inserted drawings at the begging of each chapter were very soft and elegant. The book is very warm and a true enjoyment. Thank you. I look forward for more books from you.


  12. shona
    i spent 24 years in assam some in kakajan tea estate near duklingia and my wifes parents krishan and deshi bammi were great friends of your dad my wife mini is treir daughter -i am looking to get your book after reading the many blogs all in praises pl send me your email as i am going to assam next week after many many years and i want to talk about it to friends there venkat naidoo my email is vnaidoo57@gmail.com 9343815098


  13. Your presentation at the Scottsdale library local author event on Saturday was excellent. You are so inspiring. I am looking forward to reading Teatime for the Firefly and suggesting it to my book group. All the Best!


  14. Dear Shona, We met last week at the Scottsdale PL booksale. Enjoyed Teatime – a solid first novel. I hope you plan to locate future books in Assam. It is such a rich culture and underserved in literature here in the U.S.. You really made all the components come alive and as I reader I wanted more development than you could provide in one book.


    1. Hello Ann, I’m so happy you enjoyed Teatime. Thank you for your kind words. I just finished writing my second novel “Song of the Flame Tree” (pub date June 30th 2015) which set partly in Assam. I am working on my third novel which takes us back to the tea plantations. So yes, I plan to set my books in Assam for now. That is the world I know best. God knows, there are enough challenges in creating characters, plot etc in a novel without having to imagine a new setting. I need to be standing on solid ground to tell my story. Besides, yes, Assam is hardly touched upon in Indian literature. India is mostly portrayed as Curry, Bollywood and Slumdog Millionaire. Western readers love that, it seems!


  15. Hi Shona, Just read “Teatime” and could not put it down. It’s brilliantly written, amazingly evocative and stunningly accurate. You really brought back a wealth of fond memories. I grew up in the tea estates and your parents and mine were old friends and colleagues in Jardines! My parents, Abani & Meenakshi Lahiri, served in Monabarie, Tarajulie, Halem and several other estates. I grew up hearing your parents names on their lips. Your absolutely remarkable book brought back such memories! I really do hope you write more books about our life in the estates. Your book is the “Gone with the Wind” of tea. More power to you, Shona!


    1. Wonderful to hear from you Chandra. The names of your parents do ring a bell. I will ask my sister – she has a better memory about these things. I am so glad you enjoyed Teatime. You enthusiasm is very genuine. It made my day. Thank you!


  16. Rarely have I seen such instinctive knowledge of the intricacies of plantations even among planters themselves; it amazes me to see Shona Patel weave her story set in the colonial British Indian era. Her vivid and immaculate imagination brings to life both the tender and sordid by masterly choice of words and brilliant attention to detail. For a planter who has lived nearly four decades in the plantations, it is difficult for me to imagine that ‘Teatime for the Firefly’ is a work of fiction.
    Simply outstanding!


  17. Hello Shona, came across your blog while looking for someone to connect. Like you I too am a chai ka Baba and live in Edinburgh (SCOTLAND). My mother is over from india and she has been trying to look for Clive Robertson’s number in the uk or even if you have his email – I could send him an email.

    Your blog is certainly great and will take my full attention to all your amazing posts.

    With kind regards
    Abhishek Behl
    (Son of Yoginder Behl / Assam Company Ltd)


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