Sunday Book Club: Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

After the previous two weeks of feel-good reading, I’ve decided to purchase a couple more in the same theme. I have a tendency to read books in the same genre continuously until I get sick of it and then have a big shake-up. But currently I’m still happy with the whole summer-happy reads, so please bear with me for awhile while I get over it.

This week’s choice of wishing-it-is-still-summer book is the Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson. Summer? Check. Comfort Food? Check. At first glance of the title, this is a great one to follow the previous two books I’ve recently read and sounds perfect to satisfy my hunger of summer happy reads. This costs US$1.99 on the Kindle store.

**This part of the review consist of Spoilers

Laura Walker is a widowed mother of two teen-aged children, Nate and Lizzie. Her husband (and childhood sweetheart) David, died two years ago and it’s been tough for Laura; she’s been secretly crying, pretending to be happy and strong for her children. She’s only in her early 30’s and already has to try to move on and create a new life without the love of her life.

Laura decided to uproot her children and move from Manchester to Dorset for the summer to work at the Comfort Food Cafe, a cafe that’s perched on the clifftop. At first her children were really upset with the move, but Laura decided that she has to try to move on from their old life and working for a summer at the Comfort Food Cafe sounds like a good plan.

The Comfort Food Cafe turns out to be a very friendly stop – one that not just serves delicious baked goods and wonderful meals, but also one where tourists and locals go to for friendship, companionship and a home away from home. Cherie, the owner, is a large jolly woman who welcomes all and goes out of her way to make everyone feel happy and healed.

At the Cafe, we meet the random misfits – Frank, who orders the same burnt breakfast everyday because that’s how his deceased wife used to make it; Joe, who orders almond biscotti the because it reminds him of his childhood holidays with family in Italy; and Edie, who brings home a takeaway for her “fiance” who actually died a long time ago in the war.

Laura begins to heal and becomes more like herself again; she’s happy and comfortable working at the cafe, baking and cooking food the way she loves doing them. She also meets Matt, the local vet and her neighbor, whom Cherie and Frank tries to match-make her with; Laura does like him a lot but she’s still not ready to let go of David.

At the end of the summer, they hold a massive party where Cherie bonds with her sister with whom she had a fall-out with a lifetime ago, Frank’s son and grandson comes for some quality time with him, and Laura leaves Dorset for Manchester… only to return back into Matt’s arms and Midge the Labrador puppy gifted by Matt. So all’s well that ends well.

Final Thoughts

First of all, I thought the first chapter was an interesting way to introduce the protagonist Laura and also bring the reader up to date with the sad situation that Laura is in. I’m also married to a man with whom I’ve been with for over 10 years, and while I don’t have children, I find it hard to imagine a life without him just like Laura.

The Comfort Food Cafe sounds like a great place; I love the title – just like how Comfort Food makes you feel better, it reminds me that a good book can also help to heal. Everyone is there for a friend, for a home away from home, and people are nice to each other. I like the little side touching stories for each character that didn’t feel too cliched.

The plot is predictable, but I am reading a book that I know is meant to make you happy – and a person that is still lost and sad after an entire book will not make me happy. So before I even started reading the book, I already knew that the book was going to be predictable – that is the trade off I make to read a happy book.

I think it’s a nice book – and a good one if you’re feeling down and needed a happy book to lift your spirits (of course, after the first initial chapters which can be quite sad). This is a book about how a woman found friendship and love, after much pain and sadness in her life, and a new life after a seemingly perfect life has shattered.

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