Friday, October 13, 2017

Book review: Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson


Title: Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe
Author: Debbie Johnson
Publication date: October 8th 2017
Publisher: HarperImpulse
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Review copy from publisher, through NetGalley

Description: Welcome to the cosy Comfort Food Café, where there's kindness in every cup of hot chocolate and the menu is sprinkled with love and happiness…

Moving to the little village of Budbury, Zoe hopes the crisp Dorset sea breeze and gentle pace of life will be a fresh start for her and her goddaughter, Martha.

Luckily for them both, the friendly community at the café provide listening ears, sage advice, shoulders to cry on, and some truly excellent carrot cake. And when Martha's enigmatic, absent father suddenly turns up, confusing not only Martha but Zoe too, the love and support of their new-found friends is the best present they could ask for.

Have Zoe and Martha truly found their home at the Comfort Food Café?

My thoughts: I've read a couple of the Comfort Food Cafe books before, and really enjoyed them, and I'm happy to say that Coming Home... is another excellent book from Debbie Johnson.

Zoe is our narrator for this book, a new character who hasn't been in the previous ones. The story starts in the summer of the year Zoe's best friend (and Martha's mum) has died. Following Kate's wishes, Zoe has become Martha's guardian, and they now live together, but unsurprisingly they're both struggling a lot. For 16-year-old Martha, that's taking form in her sneaking out the house, sneaking into clubs, and drinking too much. Zoe is worried for both of them, so uses her savings to quit work for a few months and take them down to the Dorset coast to stay in a picturesque holiday village.

One of the things I like about Debbie Johnson's writing is that she does a 'tragic backstory' very well. It's not overdone, it doesn't feel forced - she writes grief very well, and that comes through in all the Comfort Food Cafe books. I'm reluctant to call the book 'contemporary romance' - there is a slight romantic element to the book, but predominantly it's about dealing with tragedy, making fresh starts, and raising a teenager. I really enjoyed the focus on those elements, and how the importance of friendship shines through in the books. The village of Budbury, with its social focus being the Comfort Food Cafe, has a really strong little community, and gradually Zoe and Martha both start to engage with it, and discover some incredibly supportive friends.

Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe is a beautifully heartwarming story that will have you crying both sad and happy tears! It's about the ups and downs of starting over, the importance of friendship, and about being a parent. Cosy autumn reading, with a lovely Christmassy finish. I'm giving it 7/10.

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