In an attempt to read more light hearted “summery” books I decided to go with this as I had previously read Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe at Christmas time and genuinely enjoyed it. Having just went through thriller after thriller I feel I needed a chance to lose myself in some easy fun reading.
Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe follows a widowed mum of 2 Laura in an attempt to get her life back together after losing her husband in a freak accident. She gets a job at the Comfort Food Cafe where she meets her eccentric boss Cherrie along with many other colourful people in town. The only problem is this job means she needs to move her two teenage children down with her to Dorset.
At first they are resistant due to the drastic change in atmosphere, isolated from their friends and having to connect with the slower way of life but it might just be the thing the entire family needs after such a traumatic time. While there Laura truly begins to enjoy life again and connect with so many of the interesting people she meets down there, including Matt the local vet and hits it off could this lead to something new or is Laura still too raw from losing her husband? What happens when the summer is over and her job comes to an end?
So what did I like?
I have to give credit to the author because I truly wanted to turn up at the Comfort Food Cafe and experience the beauty and the people. I feel the location was described beautifully as well as the interesting array of people you could encounter there. Cherrie in particular was a much needed spark that not only I believe the main characters needed to come into their life but the book also needed in order to stand out and give that motherly feeling to everyone when they struggled in life.
I love the overall style of the book in that it comes across as friendly and as if the main character Laura is speaking to you personally as a friend, filling you in on her ups, downs and deeper thoughts. I found this truly endearing and I feel it made me understand her and her actions more as well as make me appreciate the other characters around her.
The opening of the book is sweet by starting it off as a letter to Cherry the owner of the cafe that Laura is applying to work at. It manages to take, ultimately what I view as the driving force behind the plot and get straight down to it without wasting much time. This is done, again, in a sweet way through the use of using Laura’s own words. This instantly made me feel something for her and recognise the great loss she suffered but without feeling the need to roll my eyes like I normally would when author’s try to create some great love story.
The story continues to manage a realistic view of grief in that you get to experience Laura and even her children go through all the emotions even after a few years. She feels guilty for having feels for someone else, while also being open about how bad she took the original loss.
So what didn’t I like?
Despite my love for Laura as a character and the lighthearted tone of the book even when dealing with harder topics I found the ending very cliche. I know this is often expected in books like this, however I feel more frustrated in this case because I believe the author herself had created other possible avenues to explore. For me it almost cheapened the beauty of the place the characters went to and took away any real sense of consequences. In the end a bad thing happened and the Laura, for one, ran away to start a new life for a bit but went against her original summer plan based mainly as I see it on a new relationship.
It’s safe to say I wasn’t a big fan of the ending but I do feel I would be more accepting of it if there had been an extra chapter added to see where these characters are in 6 months time. Throughout the book the idea of Laura staying permanently was passed about and yet most of these conversations also suggested how quiet this place was once the tourists are gone and the weather turns. For me it would have been interesting to see where the characters were 6 months later, and for it to be realistic as well. For me this would have been more pleasing because truthfully I would have liked to have known how Laura was getting on now that the “holiday” aspect had lifted, to get a real glimpse into her new life.
It also felt a little dragged out at points because every so often it seemed that something was going to happen, particularly between Laura and … only for it not to happen. This frustrated me only because it became rather obvious that something was going to happen between the two characters so for me it failed in creating that will they won’t they and rather just pulled the story out longer than necessary.
Overall I really enjoyed this read and would keep this author in mind when I need another light hearted read. Considering she managed to tackle the difficult topic of grief in a light hearted, yet realistic way, really made this book so much more enjoyable. For me the ending seemed a bit cliche and too sappy, however I can appreciate how well the author kept the sweet side to the story while still managing to keep the entire story enjoyable and thought provoking. The characters were varied and interesting, having realistic problems and faults but remained endearing throughout. Personally I would have had a different ending, considering I don’t believe anyone would leave their old life behind so easy when they have important ties there such as her sister and parents based on one holiday and one new man in their life, however I have learnt to expect this in these light hearted romance summer reads so I’m not going to be harsh about it. In the end it was a very nice read that I would recommend to anyone that needs a pleasant summer read.