29 April 2016

Book Review: Summer 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.

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.

But following the death of her beloved husband David two years earlier, Laura knows that it’s time to move on. To find a way to live without him, instead of just surviving. To find her new place in the world, and to fill the gap that he’s left in all their lives.

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…"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy the book now.

I've read two festive books by Harper Impulse author Debbie Johnson so far these past few years, so when I was asked to review her brand new summer novel Summer at the Comfort Food Café, I jumped at the chance and decided it was definitely a must-read! The cover for the book is gorgeous to, it looks like a big bowl of summer fun and really made me want to read it. I got stuck in, not expecting to love it so much and become completely absorbed by this story, its characters and the cafe itself. Here's why, for me, this is one of my must-reads of the summer!

Widow Laura  has been alone with her two teenage children Nate and Lizzie, for a few years now, but is sure that the three of them need to move on, and start afresh somewhere just for the summer, to have their first holiday without their beloved husband and father David. She accepts a job at the Comfort Food Cafe down in Dorset, where she knows no-one and nobody knows her. She soon settles into life working at the cafe, letting her kids run free at the holiday home and the beach, and makes some new friends along the way too, especially her neighbour and local vet Matt. Laura is sure this job is the beginning of something special for her, but maybe it is in ways she isn't expecting too...

There is something about Debbie Johnson's writing that makes it so readable, and I was completely sucked into the world of the cafe, Dorset and Laura's life. I loved Laura from the beginning. The book is told entirely from her point of view, and Johnson writes her grief, sorrow, trepidation and quiet excitement so well. Laura really comes to life on the page, and her narrative was just wonderful to read, I really began to love this character and thought she was perfect for the book, just the sort of woman you can really get behind and want nice things to happen for.

While Laura was a great character, and the relationships she has with her kids, especially her Instagram obsessed teenage daughter Lizzie, were fantastic to read, I also loved the residents and cafe regulars who pop up throughout the book. They were believable characters, funny, kind and just the perfect supporting characters for this story, intent on helping Laura to build her new life. Cherie Moon, Laura's new book was a fantastic character, so happy with life but hiding her own painful secret, and I loved her positive attitude towards Laura from the beginning. There's cafe regular Frank, who pops in everyday for his burnt bacon sandwich, as well as a friendly natter, and of course vet Matt, who Laura feels something of a spark with, although of course she can't contemplate doing anything because she still loves David.

The idea of the cafe is so wonderful, and I only wish that a place like this existed in real life as I know it would be so popular! It offers everything from your usual seaside cafe fair, to anything you want - no request is too small for Cherie! But its the community around it that makes it stand out. The descriptions of the cafe, the glorious beaches of Dorset and even Laura's holiday cottage are wonderfully written, and it all came alive in my mind as I was reading along, wishing I could be running along the beach with Lizzie and Nate, or serving ice cream milkshakes alongside Laura.

The book was so readable from the beginning, I truly didn't want to put it down and thought it is definitely one of the best books I have read this year. There were scenes in there that had me sobbing (yes, I cried and I'm not ashamed!), had me laughing along at Laura's antics and I just felt happy and cosy and warm as I read along. I thoroughly enjoyed everything about it, and cannot recommend it highly enough, it was a truly wonderful read. Full of fun, love, life, laughter, and above all, optimism for a happy ending for everyone.

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