Book review: Campari for Breakfast by Sara Crowe

10 Feb

campariLife is full of terrible things. Ghosts of dead relatives, heartbreak . . . burnt toast.

In 1987, Sue Bowl’s world changes for ever. Her mother dies, leaving her feeling like she’s lost a vital part of herself. And then her father shacks up with an awful man-eater called Ivana.

But Sue’s mother always told her to make the most of what she’s got – and what she’s got is a love of writing and some eccentric relatives. So Sue moves to her Aunt Coral’s crumbling ancestral home, where she fully intends to write a book and fall in love . . . and perhaps drink Campari for breakfast.

Campari for Breakfast is such an enjoyable read and a funny and heartfelt debut from Sara Crowe. I was drawn to this book by the quirky title and eye-catching cover and I wasn’t disappointed. Fans of The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets and the recently published Love, Nina will love the story of Sue Bowl and her adventures with relatives and new friends in a crumbling mansion in Egham.

Seventeen year old Sue longs to fall in love and become a writer. When her mum dies and her dad begins living with a new love, Sue can’t stand it and moves to live with her Aunt Coral and her lodgers in Green Place. The novel unfolds as a series of diary entries written by Sue punctuated by entries from Aunt Coral’s commonplace book, family letters and excerpts of Sue’s writing. Crowe has a clever way with words and Sue’s many literary mistakes made me chuckle as I read.

Sue is a character born out of time and is often traditional and naive in her views but always entertaining. The lighthearted nature of her character is balanced by the sadness of her mothers death and there are many heartfelt moments among the witty anecdotes. There are also a number of mysteries to the story and as the story jumps back and forward between Coral’s past and Sue’s story in 1987, I flew through this book eager to find out what secrets were to be revealed.

In the 1980s present there is drama aplenty as Sue finds her first job, develops a number of crushes and tries to save Aunt Coral and Green Place. The house is as much a character as its inhabitants and I enjoyed reading the background and history of it as the story played out. There’s a whole cast of wonderfully named characters – my favourites were Budlia and Cameo – and plenty of sub-plots and side stories to keep things interesting.

Campari for Breakfast will appeal to readers with a love of words and writing as aspiring author Sue forms a writing group and follows the teachings of Benjamin O’Carrol to refine her craft. The wonderfully named Egham Hirsute Group and their writing exercises never failed to make me smile and I learned many new words reading this book!

As Sue finds her place in the world I thoroughly enjoyed her story and could happily have continued reading about her and her new found friends and family. I look forward to reading more from Sara Crowe soon.


Campari for Breakfast is available in paperback and ebook formats now.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


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