Troubador Tea, Love and War

Released: 01/03/2012

ISBN: 9781780880891

eISBN: 9781780889658

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Tea, Love and War

Searching for English roots in Assam


The range of the book: from wartime England to colonial Assam; from sapper training in India to jungle warfare in Malaya – Tea, Love and War tells the unique true story of the child of an exploited village woman gaining recognition and acceptance in suburban England. It is split into three parts:?Stuart and?Mary’s story, David’s story, and Ann’s story. 

Stuart, working on a tea estate in the jungles of Assam, fathers a child by a teenage native woman. Stuart’s letters to his family in pre-war England vividly describe his life as a planter in colonial India but conceal his secret love life. When war breaks out, Stuart joins the Indian army, trains as a sapper and is posted to Malaya, blowing bridges in the desperate rearguard action against the Japanese invasion. 

Back in wartime England, his sister Mary marries Stuart’s best friend, Arthur, who decides to train as an army officer. Mary, now a young mother pregnant with her second child, tells of the year’s delay in hearing news of her brother’s death at the fall of Singapore. Before the child is born, she learns that Arthur has been killed in action in Italy. 

The story switches to a jungle village in Assam where a small Anglo-Indian child named Ann fights her way through poverty and discrimination, always seeking the identity of her father and his family. Tea, Love and War is a gripping true story, narrated by Mary through her son David. “Much of the text is taken from the many exercise books that she filled with her memories, and whilst my investigations have expanded and updated her story, the history of the relevant elements of the Second World War, the Blitz and public perception of the Malayan campaign leading to the fall of Singapore are more eloquently seen from her individual viewpoint.” 

The book will appeal to fans of autobiographies, history and social history – Anglo-Indian culture and exploitation of women in India are key themes in the text – and has been inspired by Wild Swans.

The main character of David's first book: Tea, Love and War is Stuart Poyser who left England in 1930 to work on a tea estate in Assam. Stuart fathered a child by a native woman on the estate and his daughter's quest for her roots is central to the story

'Moving tale of love and loss in wartime Assam'

The Telegraph, India

Asomiya Pratidin newspaper (in Assamese)

Old Epsomian

Leicester Mercury

The Bookseller Buyer's Guide, Spring 2012

Leicester Mercury, March 2012

This is the most poignant story I have ever read and it is a biography!

You are transported back to the time of the Second World War and through the characters share the agonising waiting for news of their loved ones in the combat zones. Eventually the dreaded news arrives with the consequences affecting the subsequent lives of the widows and their families. Thoroughly moving and a triumph!

by Simon Gravett

This book is one of those that you cannot put down. I have been reading it up till 2.00 am. Superbly written, it is a dramatic story, and makes us eternally grateful for those who gave their tomorrow for our today.

by John Sharp

These are a few of the many letters, emails and messages I have received from readers - to whom many thanks for your input.

'I finished the book last night - great read - great book - congratulations'

'I have been enthralled by your book, an extraordinary story with equally excellent structure. Your have brought together the many strands and rendered the true tale with great style - well done. It must surely become a best seller. Congratulations on a wonderful read'

'Congratulations! I loved the book and all the people in it. You covered times that I personally lived through and your research in every area was mind boggling.'

I have just finished reading Tea, Love and War and I want to tell you that I found it absolutely riveting - and superbly written.'

' L loved it and just couldn't put it down - something that I haven't done with or to a book since very early days of reading. Congratulations and thanks'

'the way in which the story is told will hold, entertain and also educate the reader'

'We both thought it to be one of the best books we had read for a long, long time'

'Well done - a really good read, and I did shed a tear in a couple of places - what a story. I do feel it would make a wonderful film.'

'I thoroughly enjoyed David Mitchell's book on heart-wrenching survival under heartbreaking conditions. His research on India and the tea plantations was exhaustingly well done. Surely this has the bare bones of a movie in the future.'

I hope some Hollywood mogul picks up your story and puts in on screen'

'Congratulations, I have just finished reading your literary masterpiece and loved it. I was riveted to Ann's story and what she had to go through particularly in her early life. The tragedy of war and later happiness so vividly portrayed by the family story. Well worth putting on paper.'

'I enjoyed it enormously. Three brilliant stories, all very well told. Thank you very much'

'I have just finished reading your book and would like to congratulate you on an extraordinary publication. It is a fascinating story and one which I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. I will be quite amazed if it does not become a best seller and even a film! It is one of the best books I have read - I could not put it down'

by David Mitchell

A book review by Ami Ganatra, Year 9D
Whilst the author compares his book to a ‘patchwork’, ‘Tea Love and War’ is more a tapestry of literature in my opinion; a mycelium of threads expertly woven together to form a dramatic epic novel. The book provides a very interesting outlook on much of 20th century life with particular focus on World War 2; the author David Mitchell through his mother Mary, explores the rich and remarkable history of his family life, in places ranging from India to Malaya to England.
Initially, the story begins with loose threads. Fragments of an Anglo-Indian girl’s life at a convent school are introduced in the first couple of chapters. This gives the reader something to bear in the mind whilst the core of the first book narrates the stories of Stuart and his sister Mary Poyser. They both voice their experiences as Stuart travels to work on a tea estate in India and England braces itself for war. Whilst Stuart finds himself falling in love with an Indian teenager on one hand, he is diligently managing busy tea factories on the other. Mary becomes a devoted sports enthusiast in England and gains more senior sporting positions as her life goes on. From the start, both their stories are fascinating and engage the reader immediately. As war erupts, the story becomes more turbulent both in England and abroad and one is shown a more personal side to life then. Love lives are turned around, as the war spreads; just as war subsides in one part of the world, it begins to gain pace in another. As the years pass, life goes on and almost every page of the book continues to captivate the already engrossed reader.
Thereafter, the story develops further. New characters come to the forefront, the story now being looked at from their eyes. The author’s powerful writing style frequently evokes the reader’s more emotional side; no sooner is the reader crying with sympathy at the moving climaxes than they are cringing with nausea at the gory descriptions.
All in all, by the story’s conclusion, the loose threads throughout the book eventually intertwine harmoniously, coming together for a deeply satisfying and happy ending.
The art of putting together such an in-depth true story, and relating it in such an eloquent manner is in itself admirable. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the novel, and found that there are many messages I could take away from it. Firstly, that life goes on inexorably. The characters contend with the many problems they faced, and one must apply that to life today. The other is that one must not give up easily. I quote from the front cover, ‘Searching for English Roots in Assam’; this is the quest in the book that took an entire lifetime, but still was never given up.
The universality of the novel means it can appeal to nearly all ages and both genders, and can give one a real insight into life in the heart of the 20th century. I believe that David Mitchell has crafted a truly brilliant book, which has shown me a very different perspective on a period that I have read numerous books about. This book is also extra personal to me in that it features my home city, Leicester – I feel I cannot pass by Morland Avenue again without mentally exclaiming “That was in ‘Tea Love and War!’”
In all, I heartily recommend ‘Tea Love and War’ by David Mitchell.

by Ami Ganatra

This is an extremely well written and absorbing book which tells a truly moving story; highly recommended.

by Richard Woodgate

The most riveting read I have experienced in years - I could not put the book down. I am about to reread it again in case I missed anything - beautifully written - this would make a wonderful film. Highly recommended to anybody who loves the unusual and loves biographies.

by Mandi Cramer

David Mitchell

The author of Bluffer's Guides to both Law and Divorce, David was inspired to write Tea,Love and War by the extraordinary history of his newly discovered Indian family. David is a solicitor and former judge, a trustee of a leading independent school and enjoys golf, tennis and squash. His book on Leicester Squash Club celebrates the building of new courts to mark the 75th anniversary of the Club

David Mitchell

Stuart Poyser aged 20
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