Book Title/Author: Queenie’s Teapot by Carolyn Steele
Reviewers: Jeriann and Bethany
Age/Genre Info: Adult Political Fiction/Satire
Preferred Reading Environment: Definitely a warm bath with lots of bubbles. You could even include a bath tea to keep with the theme.
Reading Accessories/Accoutrements: A hot cup of tea, made in your favorite tea pot.
Jeriann: I was recommended Queenie’s Teapot by my friend Deana, whose mother-in-law happens to be the author. She told me, “You will love this book so much!” and she was right. I bought Bethany a copy for Christmas and have also gifted a copy to my mom, who I knew would love it as well.
Bethany: I was skeptical about reading this book when Jeriann first told me about it because this is not my usual genre – although I do enjoy a good dystopian book, this is listed as political satire. I read it for a couple of reasons: 1) because it was free and 2) because Jeriann wanted to talk to me about it.
When I started reading, I was immediately surprised by how much I was drawn in. The characters are unique and the scenario is thought-provoking. It really makes you want to keep reading. I forgot I was reading a political satire at all and just became invested in the characters themselves.
Jeriann: I knew when I said the plot revolved around politics that Bethany would dread it. But I also knew that this book was a lot more fun and lighthearted than you would expect from the words “political fiction.”
Queenie is a doddering older British woman who loves her a nice hot cuppa tea. She’s very outspoken and not very “proper,” so she experiences some roadbumps when she becomes England’s Head of State.
That’s right, we’re in a post-democracy world where leaders are chosen every three years by a combination of lottery and computer algorithms. Of course, the nation’s leaders aren’t left to their own devices. They have handlers who teach them their jobs and guide them in their duties.
Queenie is definitely the star of the show, but there are plenty of other vibrant characters who have their own journeys of self-discovery.
Bethany: I personally liked Caroline the best. She is the one who sits in on meetings and reads people to determine how they are fitting in their roles and to prevent power hungry individuals from trying to change the system for their own glory instead of the greater good. She’s also a member of a guerilla knitting group that does a version of flash mobs that involve knitted pranks instead of dancing crowds. Her thoughts tend to run with a friendly/sarcastic sort of humor that I relate to.
I’m going to be predictable and go with the nerdy computer geek (spoiler alert) power couple as my favorite characters. Minnow and Sammy are both smart, slightly socially awkward, and insecure. If you love Abby from NCIS or Wade from Kim Possible, then you’ll adore these two.
Bethany: Hereafter, I propose we call this couple SamMin. Because every power couple needs a nickname.
Jeriann: I don’t know… sounds a little fishy to me…
The book begins at the beginning of the current political term; a new batch of incumbents has arrived for their orientation. We meet our characters as they meet each other, getting a preview of what they think of each other and how they’ll work together. This is followed by flashbacks to individual characters and scenes that explain what they were going through when they filled out their applications. The rest of the book follows a similar format, showing us the current political climate and providing backstory as needed.
The point-of-view is third-person, limited to the thoughts of one person at a time. This provides us with relevant information about the perspectives of individual characters, while also being incredibly frustrating when miscommunications are imminent. Because the characters come from deliberately unique backgrounds, they all come with differing accents and colloquialisms.
Bethany: I will mention that, as I am not British and have never been to the United Kingdom, I had a bit of difficulty with the accents and jargon. Someone comes from Manchester and someone else comes from Liverpool and, while the dialects help to define who is talking when, they can also be hard to wade through.
We really enjoyed the character development in this novel. A lot of the characters start out as pretty common stereotypes. They are recognizable easy to relate to because of their familiarity. However, the characters are not stagnant. They are well-rounded and grow in unexpected ways. This character growth goes a long way in showing that change, both in individuals and the world at large, can be positive and healthy as well as negative and complicated.
Of course, once the world is rid of the evils of democracy, everything runs smoothly and there is no political turmoil or class inequality. The world is perfect and the book idly follows the uneventful tenure of these characters.
Jeriann: Do I need to put a big ol’ 90’s “NOT!” here, or did you already hear it?
This book doesn’t have any pretensions of having solved the world’s political problems. Though the leading consensus is that the current system is better than democracy, many characters admit different flaws in the system, as well as the potential for manipulation by appointed individuals, permanent staff, and outsiders.
Bethany: I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Queenie’s Teapot. Like, I fully intend to read the next book in the series (which we MIGHT do a review of later this year).
Jeriann: I’m so glad that Deana introduced me to these characters, and that I found a book series that thoughtfully explores politics without being dreary and depressing. It’s also really exciting to hear that this has been optioned for a movie, so if the stars align, we could be seeing Queenie and her teapot on the big screen someday!
If you love tea, old british ladies, and biting humor, you should check out Queenie’s Teapot. If you do, let us know what you think in the comments!