The Christmas Cafe by Amanda Prowse

I know, I know, I’m writing another book review! I’m reading so much at the minute and very much enjoying doing so! I absolutely love Christmas books, there’s something really cosy about them and those that hit the mark really get me in that Christmas spirit. I was lucky enough to be sent this book by the lovely Amanda Prowse and I am so glad to have received it as I enjoyed it a lot… so much so I read it in just two days. If you like a Christmas book which isn’t just all about Christmas but has a lot more to it than that then this is for you!

The story

At the beginning of this book we meet Bea who is saying goodbye to her husband of thirty years who is dying. It’s a very touching opening scene and there’s a bit of intrigue too as when she is saying goodbye she is also apologising, she is sorry that she could never love him as much as someone else. We then fast forward a year to the next Christmas run up and see that Bea is doing her best to carry on with her life despite being on her own. She runs a cafe which she throws herself into getting up early to open up, really embracing her staff and customers and looking for special ornaments and trinkets to have on display but in the evenings she is lonely and she keeps thinking about someone from her past.Bea’s granddaughter Flora is having a difficult time. She is thirteen and going through the stage in life where she feels insecure with her friendships and it’s causing friction within her family life. Her father Wyatt asks Bea to look after her for a while. During this time the pair really bond and Bea finds herself offering lots of advice to her granddaughter and at the same time learns from her too.

Bea receives a letter from someone from the other side of the world who also runs a cafe- The Christmas Cafe and they begin to exchange emails. Bea admits some of her innermost feelings to her new Epenfriend Alex and she decides to go and visit along with Flora, for the Christmas period… but when she gets there Alex isn’t quite what she thought.

Characters

I have read a couple of Amanda Prowse’s books before and one thing I’ve found with them is that the characters are so beautifully created that they really make the book special and this is certainly the case with this book too. The characters are very well created and because the book isn’t full of dramatic action but lots of tender moments, you get to know the characters in depth.I loved the main character Bea. I can imagine that lots of people can relate to her whether they are in their 50s or not. I think she represents a lot of people who may feel as though their lives are plodding along and they don’t have much to look forward to and are past their most important years but she doesn’t make the book miserable, instead there’s so much hope. The way that she bonds with her granddaughter and offers her lots of advice is lovely but also when she realises there are good things around the corner it does offer hope to people who may feel in a similar situation. She is well created, and feels very ‘real’ which is why I imagine a lot of people would be able to relate to her which is always a sign of a very clever author.

I also loved Flora the granddaughter and I think that the author captures this age really well. How the ups and downs of the teenage years are so dramatic and the little things that happen feel like the end of the world. I think every thirteen year old (nearly fourteen!) needs a grandmother that they can confide in.

Writing style

This book is written in third person and all in the same time period. There are a few memories of the past which crop up but these are just a few lines and in italics so it’s easy to know when it is a memory. I think that this makes the book really easy to read, you’re not confused with time periods or different voices telling the story and I think this works really well for this particular book.I found the book really easy to read, there wasn’t lots of technical language and you don’t need to be an expert in any particular area to enjoy it so I think you can enjoy it in a relaxing way which doesn’t tax you at all. There is lots of beautiful descriptions of the two places in which it is set- Sydney and Edinburgh. I love the way the atmospheres are described in such a way you could really picture it. It did make me want to go up to Edinburgh for Christmas!

Opinion

I really enjoyed reading this book because it had a really lovely message behind it; one of hope. I sometimes think that Christmas books can be a bit tacky and just focus on preparing for Christmas and talking about decorations and Christmas songs but lack in depth and an actual story but this is not like that at all. With this book you get a proper story with characters that are very well crafted so you can relate to them. It’s written in a really tender way where we get to see characters change over time and their relationships develop in a really special way.

When reading this I felt like I was immersed in it, able to picture the scenes really well thanks to the brilliant descriptions and it was lovely to switch off from my own life to read this. There’s something very special about this book and I think it is that over the course of a year things can change so much so even if you think what you are living right now is how it’s always going to be then you can be very wrong so it offers hope to all as it wasn’t just Bea’s life that changed but so many of the other characters too and all for the better.

I finished this book and felt very positive and inspired by it as well as suitably festive too and wanting to visit Edinburgh! I think that this is a really well written book with beautifully created characters that are definitely relate-able. How lovely to read a book which is easy and enjoyable to read that leaves you feeling really positive at the end. I highly recommend this book.
ISBN 1784970379
paperback price on Amazon: £5.59
Kindle price £1.99

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