Teatime for the Firefly coverTeatime for the Firefly is set in 1940’s India, a volatile and transitional time in the country’s fight for independence. It is the story of Layla, a beautiful and reclusive young girl who is astrologically doomed never to marry and Manik, a man whose career and arranged marriage are charted for success. Through their own manipulation of fate and the ensuing unpredictable turn of events, the couple marry and enter the colonial and sequestered world of British tea plantations where Manik becomes the first Indian tea planter.

We explore through Layla’s naïve and inexperienced eyes the little-known world of Assam tea, fascinated by the crossing of unlikely paths, contrasting cultures, betrayal and greed. Life is lived on the edge: there are floods, earthquakes, man-eating leopards and rogue elephants. Tea planters survive by their wits and their guns.

We meet an unlikely medley of characters: crusty British tea planters known as the Koi-Hai’s– the “iron men in wooden ships” –who braved the malaria-ridden jungles to grow the finest tea on earth, and the reckless young blood who were lured to Assam by the promise of big game hunting and pleasures of the flesh. But this colonial world is at a tipping point as tectonic political shifts rock the tea industry and Layla and Manik find themselves caught in a perilous racial divide that threaten their very lives.

Teatime for the Firefly is a story of adaptation, survival and the power of free will to shape human destiny.

I am the daughter of a tea planter and I grew up in a tea plantation in remote Assam. Teatime for the Firefly is a work of fiction but the characters and situations are drawn real life.

You can read the first chapter HERE. I look forward to your feedback!

Teatime for the Firefly


TEATIME FOR THE FIREFLY is Shona Patel’s debut novel to be published by MIRA BOOKS in October 2013. Shona Patel is represented by April Eberhardt Literary

Teatime for the Firefly

26 thoughts on “Synopsis

  1. Both the historical time and the love story, make this a compelling book. Can’t wait until it all published and I can sit down and read it with a cup of assam tea and a scone.


      1. Oh how I wish my lips would finally taste the exotic tea and touch the fireflies quietly moving on, in the soft twilight zone of the tea gardens of Assam…


  2. Wonderful first chapter, Shona. Reminds me of my own childhood in another small Assam town, Jorhat. Kakajan T.E, Doklongia T.E, Mariani Club, Jorhat Gymkhana Club…


  3. I read the first chapter of your book & can’t wait for it to be published so I can read the rest of it. It’s not often that a book grabs my attention immediately. You have a way with words which was obvious as soon as I started to read your blog. I wish you success and lots of book buyers. You deserve it!


    1. Hi Anna,
      “Teatime for the Firefly” to be published by Mira/Harlequin is slated for release sometime end 2013. I will keep you updated. Cheers to your mom! I have a special fondness for all tea drinkers!


  4. Thanks Shona. Just FYI, I made a listing for your book at, because I wanted to add it to my “to-read” list. Looking forward to reading it!


  5. Brings back as vivid as ever memories of the time spent in Tingri, Doom Dooma, Panitola, Dibrugarh, Duliajan, Digboi and many other tea areas


    1. That is heartening to know. I have a terrible curiosity of wanting to look over my reader’s shoulder to see which part you are reading! But I will leave you to read in peace. Looking forward to hear what you have to say. Following your blog now. Thanks for following mine. Cheers!


          1. I know what you mean 🙂 But it’s the other way round. Thanks for enriching the lives of us readers with such an insightful book. It has stayed with me long after I after I finished reading it. So what’s your next project and when do we get a sneak peak into it? 😛


            1. My second book is present in that disturbingly inchoate state of all beginnings struggling to gain form. It is the story of the grandfather – a prequel to Teatime. As for when it will peep into the world – inshallah – hopefully by it’s expected delivery date, which I date not name, incase I foul up. Bear with me as I muddle through the process.


  6. Hello,

    I am doing a MA in English studies in France and wants to specialize in postcolonial studies, especially Indian literature. I loved your books so much that I decided to take them as the basis of my study! I hope we can begin touch about it because I’ll definitely have many questions to ask you, and the first one is the following one: when will you give the immense pleasure of reading your third book?
    Sincerely yours,


    1. Hello dear Sylvie,
      Why, what an honor! I will help you in every way I can and you are going to top your class! I am writing to you separately in an email to connect. Oh, and talking about the third book…it’s in the works. I will keep you posted. Warm regards, Shona 🙂


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