Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Jenny Colgan - Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe

Issy Randall can bake. No, more than that - Issy can create stunning, mouth-wateringly divine cakes. After a childhood spent in her beloved Grampa Joe's bakery she has undoubtedly inherited his talent. So when she's made redundant from her safe but dull City job, Issy decides to seize the moment and open up her own cafe.

Comment:I had this book to read for some time but I liked the other books by the author I tried, so I decided to go into something "lighter" after the last emotional book.

In this story we meet Issy Randall, a young woman who has a boring job, a boyfriend and a love for baking, thanks to her grandfather, who taught her everything she knows on the subject.
One day, her job made redundant, and her boyfriend, who happens to be her direct boss as well, doesn't warn her, which means she's out of both. While trying to decide what to do, she starts contemplating opening her own cafe, since she is very talented in baking and everyone says so when trying her sweets.
The problem is that there is more to opening up a business than just baking but with the help of her friends and those she meets while learning how to go ahead with her own business, Issy might «just succeed...

The blurbs and the covers of this author's books are a little misleading. There are cute and almost comedy scenes, yes, but for the most part, the stories have a more serious tone and message than what is perceived at first.
To me, this works very well, but I do wish the romantic elements would be highlighted a little more. In fact, thinking of the three books so far I've tried, all could use an extra layer of romantic scenes.

Issy is a very likable character because she goes through setbacks, disappointments but she is still positive, she has a skill that can be her salvation and she has people who actively try to help her despite the odds. Some readers have said it does take her too long to let go of her ex sentimentally, even if physically that separation is more obvious. I confess this aspect wasn't such a negative one for me because their interactions are sporadic and we have plenty clues on why they don't work.
However, added to the lack of romantic moments with her actual love interest and all the miscommunication involved, her love life feels very unbalanced and that is why I think the author could have done things differently.

As for the plot, as one can guess, it pretty much centers on the cafe. I liked it that the author didn't go the easy way and make things simply happen. We are guided through a (certainly still) simplistic version of how one opens up a cafe, with all the necessary steps it entails. I think this added authenticity to what Issy was going through but combined with the initial problems, her grandfather's being away and ill, the doubts that still plague her, I think this part of the story was a little sober. realistic yes, but difficult to imagine how it could work without some magic solution.

Nevertheless, for me this was an engrossing read. I wanted to keep reading and know what would happen next. The secondary characters work perfectly for the type of plot developing although some situations do seem a bit over the top, especially in relation to how their personalities seem to just adjust to their surroundings. Like how Caroline and Pearl, two employees of Issy down the road, who seem antagonists and would not get along that easily suddenly match each other so well in the cafe...

I wouldn't go as to say this is the best story ever but I liked recognizing some British details, I could envision the characters and their routines and I was rooting for things to work out for Issy.
There are many good elements here and the story felt captivating in spite of the slightly obvious clichés. I wish it were more romantic in certain moments and the HEA could have been better too.
I see there's a sequel, I'm certainly going to read it to see what happened next and if the story line follows in a more balanced manner.
Grade: 8/10

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