Thursday, 31 December 2015

Book Review - "The Christmas Cafe" by Amanda Prowse.




I received a copy of this title, from lovereading.co.uk, in return for an honest review...


Most book reviewers receive their Christmas themed books at the end of the summer, and have them read and reviewed by September or October.  I have to admit that I cannot do this.  I can't read a Christmas novel while wearing a bikini, or when there is no fire in the grate.  I need dark evenings, cozy jumpers and a variety of Christmas decorations around me.  Hence, this is only my forth Christmas read this season,  However, it's a cracker (see what I did there)!

When Bea is widowed in her early fifties, she is feeling lost and lonely.  Her son has his own family and has moved on.  her cafe, in Sydney, Australia, is her world and yet she still feels something is missing.  Her memories come back to her and she dreams of her younger days with a heavy heart.  When she is invitedd to join an online club for cafe owners worldwide, she learns how to use her laptop properly and finds some virtual friends.  Her granddaughter, Flora comes for a visit and soon the girls are planning a visit to the other side of the world, where snow replaces sand and Christmas decorations don't look out of place.  Scotland bites them with its chill, but embraces them with its charm.  When they arrive at the Christmas Cafe, they step into a unknown scenario which may just change their lives forever...

This is my first time reading Amanda Prowse, yet I have many more of her titles on my bookshelves.  The cover was calling to me, in all its twinkling glory and the fact that the author is compared to JoJo Moyes and Freya North could only be a good thing, right?  The first few pages were tear-jerkers.  Bea's husband is dying and her relationship with her son is taut.  Having a child at a young age, as a single mum, can be a blessing in the early years as you have the energy and fitness levels to keep up with them, but it can also have its downsides.  Bea feels like her son resents her, yet can't figure out why.  \her daughter-in-law is standoffish and she rarely sees her granddaughter.  She even has to invite herself over for Christmas dinner each year.  Something's not right.  When Flora gets in trouble at school, a trip to her grandmother's house seems the logical way of allowing some cooling time between herself and her parents.  Here is where Flora and Bea get to really know each other and even learn a lot about themselves in the process.  Edinburgh is described with tenderness, from the tartan carpets of the Balmoral Hotel, to the historical castle and King Arthur's Seat right down to the narrow side streets of the city, steeped in atmosphere.  This is a huge culture shock for the two girls, who are used to flip flops, and year-long sunshine.  However, the biggest shock is yet to come.  The Christmas Cafe's owner, has a surprise and Bea never saw it coming...

This was my favourite Christmas read for a long time.  Having it based on two continents adds a little something extra and the emotional scenes had my heart giving a little flutter (corny, but true).  Bea is a great character, although I would be surprised that someone in their early 50s wouldn't know how to send an email or even know how to use a smart phone.  50s is the new 30s, don't you know!  One of my favourite scenes is where the two girls are descending the aircraft steps, after landing in Edinburgh.  While Bea has experienced Europes colder climate before, Flora is flabbergasted, as only an Australian could be :)

"..this was the kind of cold that shrank your goosepimpled skin against your limbs and chilled your bones until they felt brittle.  The kind of cold that hurt your ears and made you want to crawl beneath a big fat duvet and not emerge until the summer showed its face."

Even though Christmas is approaching its end,  there are still many dark nights to be had, sitting by the fire and losing yourself in a good book.  You could do a lot worse than this festive novel.  Charming, with great character, it blends grief with hope and shows how sometimes life does only begin in the later parts of our lives.  I'm off to root out Amanda Prowse's other novels...

Perfect for fans of Emma Hannigan and Cecelia Ahern.

The Christmas Cafe is available in paperback and ebook format.  You can order your copy, with Free Worldwide Postagehere.  The ebook can be ordered via amazon link below:


2 comments:

  1. Thanks for your review. Now I think I need to pull one of my Amanda Prowse novels off my shelf and give it a read.

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  2. Perfect for those holiday days, where there's a pile of housework to be ignored ��

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