Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson
Publishing Date: 8th October 2017
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)
Come home to the Comfort Food Café and cosy up with a mug of hot chocolate and an extra sprinkle of romance!
When Zoe’s best friend Kate dies of breast cancer, her whole world is turned upside down. Within hours, she goes from being the wacky neighbour who can barely keep a houseplant alive to a whole new world of responsibility when she realises she’s guardian to Kate’s 15-year-old daughter, Martha.
Moving to the little village of Budbury, Zoe hopes the fresh Dorset sea breeze and the gentle pace of life will help them heal.
Luckily for them both, the friendly community at the Comfort Food Cafe 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 friendship of their new friends is the best present they could have asked for…
Oh my word, guys, you have no idea how much I loved “Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe”! I simply adored it with all my heart and my whole little miserable life, and I really can’t describe how great it was to be back to the Comfort Food Cafe, Budbury and all the brilliant villagers, old or new. The Comfort Food Cafe series, in fact, is up there, very very high, on the favourite series shelf, together with the Walshs by Marian Keyes and The Proper Family by Chrissie Manby and I really don’t want to end.
You can read this book as a stand – alone, as it introduces as to brand new characters that are going to break your heart and full it with the warmest feelings at the same time, but I highly, highly recommend to read all of the books in the series because they are simply brilliant and it is always such a great feeling to catch up with all the regular, old characters.
The story is split into four parts, and each of them is full to brims with beautiful descriptions, bad and good things happening, tears and laughter. Within those four parts we can see how much affect The Comfort Food Cafe is having on Zoe and Martha, how they change, open and find their place. But of course this story is not only about Zoe and Martha, and I was over the moon with joy to see and hear the latest from Laura, Becca, Cheri, Edie and their other halves. They didn’t change one iota, thanks God, they are still as warm and welcoming as ever, and they still know what is needed to help the new kids on the block to see happiness again.
The characters are, as always, spiky, bubbly and real and they feel like 3D people. They are quirky, they are fun, they are full of compassion and I would love to have such Comfort Food Cafe nearby. There is this brilliant and warm feeling of community spirit. Zoe and Martha, the two main characters this time, are so beautifully written, they are down to earth and genuine with all of their emotions. Martha is the typical teenager but you cannot dislike her, you sympathize with her, with the way she copes with her grief, and her being so sarcastic and awkward rings such a bell. The interactions between Zoe and Martha are fabulous and also genuine – the author has got so easily into their heads and put all of their feelings into words. Zoe is so authentic, and she deserves a standing ovation for being as she is, what with her chaotic and shaky childhood.
The story mentions good as well as tough times of Zoe and Martha, and it is incredible how very well it is balanced, how well the author knows when to add a poignant moment and when to brighten the atmosphere, and let’s just mention the welcoming party or the Christmas Talent Show. There is so much feeling and understanding to the words and even when Debbie Johnson writes about dogs sitting on Cal’s feet, hoping for something to eat, it is written in such a way that you could easily picture this and feel the warmth in those words. This novel is full of twists and turns and surprises, there are so many threads in there but they all mesh really well, they get together brilliantly and as a result we get a wonderful story without a single flat moment, but also that is not overdone.
I’ve no idea how Debbie Johnson manages to capture and put into words all the emotions and feelings: of disappointment, anger, hope, love, despair and exasperation – but she does it in a brilliant way. It was so honest, so genuine that I really had goose bumps, it touched upon all my right heart – strings and it doesn’t happen often, guys, only very few authors can do this, and Debbie Johnson belongs to them.
Debbie Johnson’s writing style is one of a kind, she draws the reader into the story from the very first page and I found myself racing through the pages, but not wanting this book to end. This story is so beautifully written, it’s full of layers, it’s deep and incredibly funny at the same time, and full of unforgettable characters and situations, friendship and the overwhelming feeling of being welcome. It’s bittersweet, and it is very honest and raw but there is also this incredibly uplifting, optimistic side to it. You can feel the love, the friendship and hope and it is great. It made me laugh out loud and cry like a baby, and it evoke all kind of emotions in me. It is Debbie Johnson at her best, though I could have mentioned it once or twice in my previous reviews? Very highly recommended!