31 October 2016
Book Review: Christmas at the Comfort Food Café by 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."
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I have become a huge Debbie Johnson, thanks to the fact her books are just brilliant, and I enjoy every single one that I pick up! I read her latest summer novel Summer at the Comfort Food Café a few months ago and adored it, so I was thrilled to see that Debbie was bringing these characters for another outing, this time at Christmas! However, instead of following Laura as we did in the first book, we follow her single sister Becca in this one, reluctantly joining in with her families celebrations, wishing she was back in her flat on her own! Laura, however, is determined to drag her sister into the festivities, including café owner Cherie's upcoming wedding, and, of course, Christmas. But Becca is finding it tough - will she be able to put up with everyone for the whole Christmas period, and is the arrival of local surfer Sam going to change her mind?!
The first thing I want to mention is Debbie's wonderful writing. It is this that makes me want to pick up her books several times a year, and devour them in one sitting. They're funny (genuinely laugh out loud funny too!), warm, and a joy to read, and this one was certainly no different. Debbie creates the perfect festive feeling throughout this book, and I looked forward to each opportunity I got to pick it up and get myself back to the Dorset coast with Becca and her family again.
I loved Laura as the main character in the summer novel, so it was interesting this time to see Laura and her family from someone else's point of view. While we met Becca in the previous book, she wasn't a main character at all so we don't really know too much about her going into this book. Firstly, she clearly dislikes Christmas and all it stands for. The book begins with a few flashbacks to Becca and Laura's childhood, and their Christmas disasters. Actually, Becca doesn't come across as a very nice person, but as the book progresses, it all becomes clearer as to why Becca is how she is. I actually found it quite sweet how much out of her comfort zone she put herself for her sister.
It was great being back at the Comfort Food Café again with the characters I had really grown to love in the summer. It was lovely to see how settled Laura's children Lizzy and Nate were at last, that Laura's relationship was still ongoing, and that Cherie's wedding was imminent. You don't have to have read the first book to enjoy this, but I feel you should read it prior to this to really set the tone for this one, and explain many of the goings on that are hinted at throughout this book. As I said, the festive feeling is truly there throughout, and happily we actually get to celebrate a Christmas day in the book, which is actually far rarer than you'd think in Christmas fiction!
This book was completely enjoyable from start to finish, and it's definitely one of my favourite Christmas books that I have read so far this year. It was great to be back in a familiar environment, with characters that I knew and already loved, and I was intrigued to find out a lot more about Becca as well, and her journey in the book. I don't want to reveal a lot, but we certainly get to see lots of Becca's downs as well as her ups, I did feel quite sorry for her and her mindset throughout the book, she recognised that she needed to change things but just seemed lost as to how. It was fun, festive and a great read, but also tackles some more serious things, and I enjoyed the balance of this within the book. A fab read, a must-read for Christmas!