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Tea Leaves Paperback – May 8, 2012
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There is also a similarity about breaking dishes, described in the following passage of Tea Leaves:
"Maybe the lack of tradition is a tradition in itself? I stopped to reconsider that I may have overlooked some family traditions: screaming and breaking dishes. When my mother was a child, her mother had hurled a cast-iron skillet at her head. 'I ducked,' my mother told me years later, 'and it went right through the window. Mama was mad at me for years. She said the broken window was my fault.' My mother had altered the pattern a little bit. She vented her pent-up rage by smashing dishes in the kitchen, while I sat terrified in the other room. I remember her doing this several times, once after my grandmother died when I was twelve. The dish breaking was accompanied with the slamming of the kitchen cabinets."
In my family, the first time we got new dishes, Mom insisted that we break the old ones, throwing them onto the kitchen floor - with the difference that Mom made it into a fun event, in contrast to the experience in Ms. Mason's book.Read more ›
When Janet returns to take care of her mother, she encourages her to tell her family stories - and for the last time, she listens to her mother talking about her own mother, who worked in a textile mill in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. Their family came from Bradford, England (a town known for its decaying textile mills that were in full force during the Victorian era) and Janet's grandmother, Ethelind Elizabeth, had illusions of being related to English Royalty. Her dying mother, Jane, scoffs at this ("Royalty, my arse," she says) but somewhere in her childhood she must have believed her mother. On her one trip abroad, she traveled by herself to England and when the tour bus stopped in Bradford, she refused to get off the bus.
"Thinking about her mother's devotion (which my mother most likely thought of as subservience) to the church, my mother slammed the guidebook shut. There was nothing here that was any better than her mother's life working in the textile mill. The mill was like an evil fairy tale--her mother and her mother and her mother before her had all pricked their fingers on a spindle and the life drained out of them."
The writing is lyrical and mesmerizing.Read more ›