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Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens cover art

Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens

By: Shankari Chandran
Narrated by: Rachael Tidd
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Publisher's Summary

WINNER OF THE MILES FRANKLIN AWARD

Welcome to Cinnamon Gardens, a home for those who are lost and the stories they treasure.

Cinnamon Gardens Nursing Home is nestled in the quiet suburb of Westgrove, Sydney—populated with residents with colourful histories, each with their own secrets, triumphs and failings. This is their safe place, an oasis of familiar delights—a beautiful garden, a busy kitchen and a bountiful recreation schedule.

But this ordinary neighbourhood is not without its prejudices. The serenity of Cinnamon Gardens is threatened by malignant forces more interested in what makes this refuge different rather than embracing the calm companionship that makes this place home to so many. As those who challenge the residents’ existence make their stand against the nursing home with devastating consequences, our characters are forced to reckon with a country divided.

Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens is about family and memory, community and race, but is ultimately a love letter to storytelling and how our stories shape who we are.

‘An engrossing, urgent, warm, wise and utterly, utterly beautiful novel.’ Emily Maguire, bestselling author of An Isolated Incident and Love Objects

‘Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens filled this reviewer’s heart with both hope and rage at witnessing history repeat itself, while somehow preserving optimism about how communities can be rebuilt.’ Books + Publishing

©2021 Shankari Chandran (P)2022 W. F. Howes Ltd & Ultimo Press

What listeners say about Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

This book will make you angry

This ‘book’ is the reason I joined auidible. I just did not want to physically touch the pages. Such an ugly story about reverse racism and ethnocentrism, cherry coated over the premise of a ‘cup of tea’. I had to force myself to read it to appease my book club - it makes Australians out to be fundamentally stupid, all the while there is a truly exciting story of Shri Lanka hidden neatly within and left unfinished by the end. It’s as though the author was feuled by her own hatred and double standards she did not realise she had left the prize still sitting on the shelf by the end of the novel. A book full of bias and made even more disappointing when I found that the author lives a privileged life that many Australian’s can only dream about. What is that saying about ‘biting the hand that feeds you?

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33 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant

Written by Australian author, Shankari Chandran, this is a book everyone should read! Set within the Hindu Tamil community of Sydney, this novel transcends its pages in telling the stories of some of the lives of the residents living at the Cinnamon Garden Nursing Home, and of the people who dedicate themselves to caring for them - it could be any community anywhere with a colonial history of having been conquered and exploited and controlled. It's relevance is more urgent than ever in a world aching to be seen and felt with more compassion, more empathy, more humanity. I feel this book is important on several levels, one of those being how it addresses the issue of racism in Australia without apology or a "happily-ever-after" Hollywood ending. Another important part of the book, is it's telling of the history of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, and the civil war fought between 1983 and 2009. Though this part of the book is not written about extensively (it's not a historical text, afterall), it imparts a good deal of knowledge about the horrors perpetrated against the Tamil people.

Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens is a beautifully written novel about love, loyalty, betrayal, survival, community, connection, and the stories we collect throughout our lives - stories that create our history.

I look forward to reading much more from this gifted author. Her's is a voice much needed in our country!

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22 people found this helpful

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Important story poorly told

I would recommend this for a precocious 10 year old to teach them about racism and what immigrants can face in a country like Australia. I would not recommend this to an adult reader of any sophistication. All the characters are one dimensional - either saints or naive or racists. Situations are ridiculous and contrived to make political points, and the author gets her points across by endlessly lecturing the reader. Too much tell and almost no show. There is no subtlety or magic or human complexity here. I’m amazed that so many people claim to find it engrossing. It’s a shame such an important story is so poorly told.

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20 people found this helpful

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Bash me over the head!

I can’t finish this book. It’s a rant from the author. A diatribe. The situations and characters it presents are abundantly known by a large part of our population. What about a book that examines the subtleties of race differences? Then I could consider and learn something new, something not so obvious and laboured. Most intelligent people know this material. The ignorant ones won’t be reading the Miles Franklin Award winner. Get down from your lecturn and stop teaching me basic social science.

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16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Powerful, important, relevant, moving!

Amazing, moving story that made
me weep and mourn, rage and regret, love and rejoice. Beautifully rendered characters and places woven into a complex and evocative story of history, love, memories and family, unashamedly poking painfully at some uncomfortable realities of Australian attitudes to migrants. I loved it and think everyone should read it! I want to move into the Cinnamon Gardens nursing home. ❤
Narration was perfect.

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9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Meh….

I learnt about some of Sri Lanka’s history at least. Maybe better if I read it instead of listened.

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4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Opened my eyes

Loved this story. The personalities and family mystery drew me in so I did not even realise I was being shown the bigger story about Sri Lanka and its history, the parallels with Australian colonisation. A beautiful, moving story that had me laughing, fascinated, horrified, near tears. A wow book for me.

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4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Interesting

Some great bits but some not so good
- reader was excellent: through her performance she was able to make it clear who was who and what was going on without making it all about herself
- characters were quite one dimensional: the good characters were universally rational, intelligent, articulate, kind and compassionate. The bad characters were universally stupid and had few redeeming features
- the parts about the Sri Lankan civil war were really interesting
- there were quite a lot of parts which challenged my ability to suspend my disbelief which ultimately marred my enjoyment of this book

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3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A very relevant story leading up to the Referendum

A strong story with relevance to the upcoming Referendum. The parallels are compelling.
The graphic discriptions of the Sri Lankan civil war atrocities resemble Nazi Germany.
Thank you Shankari Chandran

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3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Incredible- a must read!

An incredible story, with such engaging writing. I really connected with the characters and their experiences, and was so impressed with each character’s depth. I’ve been recommending this book to everyone I meet. Major trigger warning to those people who have been affected by the Sri Lankan Civil War.

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3 people found this helpful

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.