31 May 2011

Book Review: The Beach Cafe by Lucy Diamond

Evie Flynn always felt like an outsider in her own family, she sort of floats along in temp jobs, never seeming to get anywhere unlike her sisters who are both settled down with children. Evie isn't sure her relationship is going anywhere although she adores her step-son Saul. However, Evie is thrown a curveball when she is left The Beach Cafe after the sudden death of her Aunt Jo. With the cafe being in Cornwall and Evie living in Oxford, it seems like a nightmare but Evie starts to wonder if she should start her life again and move somewhere totally new. When she finally makes the break, Evie finds out running a cafe is far harder than she thought, not to mention the fact that she feels totally alone with everyone she knows being 150 miles away. Will Evie be able to make a success of the café and keep her Aunt's legacy going?

I have read quite a few of Lucy Diamond's aka Sue Mongredien's books, and so was very much looking forward to reading this one, it sounded like a lovely summer read. The new cover design is gorgeous, and I think the blue theme suits the idea of a beachy book perfectly, and her older books have been redesigned with this look too. I was surprised at the size of the proof copy, it was quite a chunk of a book but I quickly got stuck in, eager to read all about Evie and her adventures in Cornwall. However, I did find it took quite a while to get going and once I had finished it, I couldn't help but think it could have been half that short and still had the same things happen, it felt a little too long and convoluted to me!

Evie is a great character, one I really warmed to straight away. She's stuck in a bit of a rut, unsure where to go and what to do, indecisive to the point of being slightly annoying in places but either way, she read like a real human being who just didn't know what to do with her life. We can all see that her relationship with her boyfriend is going nowhere but Evie is afraid to end it, just as we are all afraid to walk away from something we've put years into. As Evie is the main character, and the one we follow for the whole book, its important she is likeable and a good protagonist and luckily she is.

Now, the first thing that I didn't like so much about the book was the fact that it took almost 200 pages, nearly half on my 484 page proof copy for the story to REALLY get going. It felt like it stalled a little for quite some time, and could have a lot of pointless and unnecessary scenes cut from it. I was really eager to move the book along to Cornwall, and it just took too long to get there for me which was a shame. Then when it finally gets to Cornwall, it seems to slow down again for while, taking another 100 or so pages for things to really start happened. I can't help but feel that there were lots of filler scenes in here that could have been cut, the book really could do with being at least 100-150 pages shorter than it is.

Don't let yourself think that this isn't a book to read because of that, because I really did enjoy the story within. I loved the way Diamond approached Evie's move to Cornwall, the effect it had on her and the things that happen there. It was really enjoyable in parts, and I found the last 100 pages were brilliant and really kept up the pace. The other characters in the book, Ed the Chef, Phoebe the homeless girl and Rachel the Aussie waitress were all great and individual characters. I like how Diamond created their own relationships with Evie and brought them all together through the story, the one with Phoebe and Evie was particularly touching and I wish a bit more of this happened in the book, it was great!

Overall, this was a good read but I just felt it was a little bit too long for my liking. It seemed like in parts it did seem to lag and could have done with tightening up in places, and cutting out some of the more unnecessary scenes. However, the idea of the book is great and I really did enjoy reading about Evie's escapades in Cornwall, and the book does highlight the importance of community and it is very touching in that respect. I did love the characters, the setting of Cornwall was very idyllic and made me want to visit there this summer! If you loved Lucy's previous books you'll want to read this one, and I recommend you do, but just be prepared for it being quite a long read!

Rating: 3/5

1 comment:

  1. I just finished this book over the weekend and loved it - the setting, the characters, etc. I didn't find it long at all. Didn't want it to end.