From England’s seaside town of Brighton to India’s slums of Calcutta and the breathtaking Himalayan mountains, Fiona McIntosh’s The Tea Gardens is a wildly exciting and heartbreaking story about the pursuit of passion.
Discussion points and questions:
- Is The Tea Gardens a story of true love or devastating betrayal?
- Do you think Jove was kind, clever or cunning when he allowed Isla to follow her heart to India? Could you appreciate his motives?
- As a physician, Isla is driven by an intense need to save others. In what ways does she learn that this is not always possible?
- Matron tells Isla that rank is given but respect is earned. Do you think Isla earns respect during her time in India?
- Do you agree that faith is far stronger than medicine?
- In his letter, Jove tells Isla to ‘leave nothing behind’ in India. Was this good advice, in your view?
- ‘No one ever leaves Kangchenjunga unchanged.’ Discuss.
- What is the significance of the book’s remote location?
- Identify some of the many different ways in which tea is used throughout the novel.
- Do you agree with Saxon when he says, ‘You can still make a good life even if you’re not with that person you truly love’?
- How did Isla change through her experiences?
- Do you find Saxon the hero or the villain of this story?
- Is this a book about people maintaining control of their emotions – or losing control of them?
- If you were Isla, would you have chosen Saxon or Jove?