Tuesday 5 July 2016

Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe - Debbie Johnson

The Comfort Food Cafe is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world, serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle cafe overlooking the beach is a beacon of laughter, companionship, and security – a place like no other; a place that offers friendship as a daily special, and where a hearty welcome is always on the menu.
For widowed mum-of-two Laura Walker, the decision to uproot her teenaged children and make the trek from Manchester to Dorset for the summer isn’t one she takes lightly, and it’s certainly not winning her any awards from her kids, Nate and Lizzie. Even her own parents think she’s gone mad.
Her new job at the cafe, and the hilarious people she meets there, give Laura the chance she needs to make new friends; to learn to be herself again, and – just possibly – to learn to love again as well.
For her, the Comfort Food Cafe doesn’t just serve food – it serves a second chance to live her life to the full…
What did I think?

Well if there's ever a book to help us escape from this awful British summer, then Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe is certainly up to the task.  I felt as if the sun was shining out of each page and it certainly lit up my face and caused me to crack a smile on more than one occasion, except when I was crying!

It was an absolute stroke of genius to start with Laura pouring out her heart in her extremely emotional and heartfelt letter to Cherie Moon, as she applied for a summer job as cook at the Comfort Food Cafe in Dorset.  Laura is a 35 year old widow, living in Manchester with her two children, Lizzie (14) and Nate (12).  As I read of her love for her husband, David, who died 2 years ago, I knew instantly that Laura was a character that I was going to accept into my heart with open arms...along with the rest of her family, crazy lazy dog and half of Dorset.  Cherie offers Laura the job so the family set off to Dorset for the summer with their flatulent labrador, Jimbo.

I never expected such an abundance of colourful characters, characters as colourful as the mouthwatering cover, I might add.  As Laura has to endure many hilarious calamities, it was lovely to see her smiling and laughing, although never forgetting David.  I could see her evolving from 'widow' to 'woman' (thanks to hunky vet, Matt) in front of my very eyes, and it was a delight to witness such an uplifting change.  She definitely breathes a breath of fresh air into the Comfort Food Cafe and I'm going to have a go at making my own chocolate bar milkshakes as I was positively drooling when she smashed up KitKats to make her marvellous concoctions.

I loved the layout of the book, separating the chapters into weeks which gave a glimpse of what was to come in the subsequent chapters.  It certainly didn't spoil any of the punchlines as I could never have guessed what was about to happen, despite Debbie Johnson giving us these clues.  It did make me read faster though with little titbits like: "Week 1.  In which I...wrap my bra around a strange man's head..."

My favourite part of the book has to be Frank's 80th Birthday party, which turns into something a bit like Cilla's Surprise Surprise. Without fail, I always cried at Surprise Surprise and Long Lost Families so I read this chapter of the book with tears streaming down my face.  It just shows how much all of the characters had come to mean to me and I really felt as if I had shared in their happiness.

Debbie Johnson played my heartstrings like a maestro in Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe.  I laughed out loud, giggled, smiled and cried tears of both joy and sadness; experiencing a whole rainbow of emotions.  A super fun read with some genuinely sad moments and some absolutely hilarious events, all very much true to life.  It's always a measure of a good book if it can make me laugh or cry; Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe did both and I'll certainly be looking our for more books by Debbie Johnson.  

I received this book from the publisher, HarperImpulse, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

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