Green Vanilla Tea

Finch Memoir Prize winner

“…a knock-out book that hits so many of the right notes and is completely relevant in today’s world.” ~ Susan Duncan, author of Salvation Creek

Green Vanilla Tea

In a story spanning heartache and humour, Marie Williams writes about her family’s experiences with a terminal illness they call the ‘Green Goblin.’ Her husband, Dominic, is in his early forties when diagnosed with younger onset dementia with motor neurone disease.

Green Vanilla Tea is a story about love and life, in a world where so much is amiss, written as an offering of hope for their two teenage sons.

Marie’s writing started out as a spontaneous response to grief. Amidst the demands of caring for her husband and parenting her sons, writing kept her anchored.

It held still the paradox, where life was both empty and full, together and falling apart and the simplest things were the most extraordinary.

She wrote of love, loss and finding hope in inexplicable times.

After Dominic died in 2007, Marie collated her musings together for the boys – a way to give shape to a story that lay beyond the reach of articulation. So much of what they experienced felt invisible, slippery and without words. They asked her to write about it. To “capture it somehow” and “give their story form.”

Marie wrote with no intention to publish; it was enough that her writing provided a launching pad for rich conversations with her sons. The human experience is intricate – as joyous as it is painful – and they explored it all. Whether chopping vegetables at the kitchen counter or driving to sport games, they talked through every evolving chapter, finding the words and giving their story voice. Her sons’ reflections are woven throughout the pages of the book; something they can share with their own families one day.

This creative act of family storytelling went on to become an award winning memoir, “a story about love: a tale of a strange place – the real world – in which green goblins and hope find a way to live together.”

Above all, it is a love story.

Marie’s memoir, Green Vanilla Tea, won the Finch Memoir Prize, 2013.

"Heartbreaking, compelling, warm and compassionate. It’s a knock-out book that hits so many of the right notes and is completely relevant in today’s world. And unbelievably – considering the tragedy…uplifting. An inspiring read."

Susan Duncan, author of Salvation Creek, The House at Salvation Creek, The Briny Cafe, Gone Fishing and House on the Hill.

"(I was) moved by the tragedy of the story, and the love and trust and care and kindness everybody showed…"

Jacqui Kent, editor and author of The Making of Julia Gillard

“Green Vanilla Tea is the winner of the 2013 Finch Memoir Prize and it’s easy to see why… Williams has written a powerful and heartbreaking account of her husband’s illness, and the challenges faced by the family, which never loses sight of the immense love that binds this family together. This is an inspiring and important memoir.”

Sarina Gale, Books + Publishing.

“Nobody has the right to have the last word on a book as beautiful as this. There would be few who have loved and cared for a person with dementia who will not be able to relate to the many moments of acute sadness, laughter and joy in this book.”

Ita Buttrose AC, OBE
‘Note to Readers’, Green Vanilla Tea.

"I dare you to read Green Vanilla Tea and not fall in love with this family. Marie Williams has written a beautiful memoir about facing illness and loss with love and hope. She has opened her family’s life and experiences to us in a way that will help us stay in touch with the richness of life and relationships, even in times of heartbreak and the loss of dreams. Thank you, Marie Williams, for this extraordinary love story."

Jill Freedman, MSW, Family Therapist and Director of Evanston Family Therapy Center in Evanston, Illinois, as well as co-author of Symbol, Story, and Ceremony; Narrative Therapy and Narrative Therapy with Couples.

"This beautifully written memoir of a husband and father who suffers a premature death is also a story about how families and communities cope with the ambiguous loss that precedes the physical death of a loved one. In the words of a young child who was part of the nurturing community that surrounded Dominic, ‘we will crowd you with our love.’ Insightful, heart-rending, and inspiring, this book offers the details of a family’s life shattered by Dom’s years of decline and death from a rare neurological condition. While particular about these people, Green Vanilla Tea provides lessons about love, care, generosity, and sadness. With unflinching descriptions of the darkness and despair the family faced, the book also shows their path toward solace and hope. Movingly, it shows how they were able to repair and restore a sense of wholeness to their interrupted lives. I highly recommend this brave book."

Kaethe Weingarten, PhD, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School (1981-2013) and director of the Witnessing Project at

“The standard of the entries we receive improves every year. Marie won against some fierce competition... however, the judges agreed that Green Vanilla Tea was the standout entry this year, making us laugh, cry and above all reflect on the value of love and family.”

Rex Finch, Finch Publishing.

“…At the heart of Green Vanilla Tea (the title refers to the beverage Dominic would offer visitors during his illness) is a heroic gesture of capitulation. The family must let Dominic go, yet remain present to him unconditionally as the disease takes its catastrophic course. They adapt their behaviour to accommodate his way of being in the world, joining in his laughter at things that amuse him, patiently listening to the same question 100 times over, resisting the urge to challenge fractured thinking: "The key was to make peace with ourselves and to accept Dom exactly as he was. It called for an act of surrender. We had no bargaining power. The task was to live fully in the presence of dying." In the face of intolerable grief, the family achieved just that. This book is Dominic’s and their testament.”

Annemarie Jonson, The Australian. Read the full review along with Annemarie’s review of The Miracle of Love.

“…Every page of this memoir oozes the love Marie and her children felt for the husband and father they lost… …Williams’ ability to convey the emotional landscape of her family’s life during the years before Dom’s death means this is a weepy- as all three judges can attest. However, there is also much humour and a real insight into how difficult it can be to traverse the complexities of the medical and support systems whilst dealing with the emotional strain of being a full time carer. Green Vanilla Tea is a heart rending and uplifting all at once.”

Meredith Jaffe,  The Hoopla, Women’s Creativity matters.

“Green Vanilla Tea is a stunning and moving work of memoir… …Pack tissues. It’s unsentimental, but devastatingly moving.”

Nike Sulway, PhD, Author of The Bone FluteWhat the Sky KnowsThe True Green of Hopeand Dying in the First Person. Read the full review



Green Vanilla Tea can be ordered directly from Bad Apple Press. They ship locally and overseas.

And the great thing – when you buy directly through Bad Apple Press, you guarantee the author a higher royalty!

Green Vanilla Tea is available from all good bookshops. To find an independent bookshop near you, go to

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Green Vanilla Tea is available in all good bookstores. To find an independent bookstore near you, go to Indie Bound.

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You can order Green Vanilla Tea online through the following retailers:

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