Martha Macnamara knows that her daughter, Elizabeth, is in trouble; she just doesn't know what kind. Mysterious phone calls from San Francisco at odd hours of the night are the only contact she has had with Elizabeth for years. Now, Elizabeth has sent her a plane ticket and reserved a room for her at San Francisco's most luxurious hotel. Yet she has not tried to contact Martha since she arrived, leaving her lonely, confused, and a little bit worried. Into the story steps Mayland Long, a distinguished-looking and wealthy Chinese man who lives at the hotel and is drawn to Martha's good nature and ability to pinpoint the truth of a matter.
Mayland and Martha become close in a short period of time and he promises to help her find Elizabeth, making small inroads in the mystery before Martha herself disappears. Now Mayland is struck by the realization, too late, that he is in love with Martha, and now he fears for her life. Determined to find her, he sets his prodigious philosopher's mind to work on the problem, embarking on a potentially dangerous adventure.
©1983 R. A. MacAvoy (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"A small masterpiece, setting a fantasy story against a contemporary background." (Booklist)
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
This was an eighties book and I read and loved it at the time. It still holds up well, and I love that the romance is between people well past their middle ages. The computer bits are past dated but not central to the story. It's gentle lovely swashbuckler romance with a Chinese dragon. What's better than that?
It's aged a bit somehow which is why I took a star off. But it still was delightful.
The writing is cheesy, but there is something charming about this story. The mystery involves old-timey computers; it's amusingly antique, but never much of a puzzle. The black dragon himself is a great invention, and his zen master/love interest (who has a surprising cousinship with Mrs Pollifax and other middle-aged ladies of American popular novels) has good bones. But the narrator is so bad that this is a hard listen. If nostalgic, maybe better to find the ebook or an old paperback copy and just read it for yourself.
This is an excellent story that would probably be better in print than on this recording. A good storyteller can make a difference; but this reader can ONLY read, not tell a story; and her voice is too vapid for the writing.
In spite of that, the story is charming enough to bear another reading--possibly on paper the next time. A Chinese imperial dragon who becomes human in his search for the meaning of life !
(I would like to hear the sequel, but same reader, so....)
Compulsive reader, compulsive listener.
As a story, Tea with the Black Dragon is superlative. It's a bit dated now, as a techology-driven story set in 1983, but MacAvoy gets the tech right.
As an audiobook, it's... average. Occasionally, it is obvious that the narrator is not aware of cultural nuances and verbal tics involved in other languages to get some of the vocals right. (Mayland Long is supposed to have an old-style Oxford accent, but the narrator uses a modern, well-educated North London). Since language also drives the story, it might have been better to get a performer who understood and could simulate nuances of accent better. Though in the face of that, Hayes does read aloud quite well, and has a pleasant voice to listen to.
Well, I originally read the book in the late eighties, but yes, the twists of the plot lead to unexpected places!
Yes, the differences in character were quite clear. She avoided simulating the basso profundo so many young female narrators use when reading the male dialog, only deepening subtly, but with clear differentiation between characters.
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