Book review: Summer At The Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

17 Jun

image001 (8)The Comfort Food Cafe is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world, serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle cafe overlooking the beach is a beacon of laughter, companionship, and security – a place like no other; a place that offers friendship as a daily special, and where a hearty welcome is always on the menu.

For widowed mum-of-two Laura Walker, the decision to uproot her teenaged children and make the trek from Manchester to Dorset for the summer isn’t one she takes lightly, and it’s certainly not winning her any awards from her kids, Nate and Lizzie. Even her own parents think she’s gone mad.

Her new job at the cafe, and the hilarious people she meets there, give Laura the chance she needs to make new friends; to learn to be herself again, and – just possibly – to learn to love again as well.

For her, the Comfort Food Cafe doesn’t just serve food – it serves a second chance to live her life to the full…

Debbie Johnson’s books just keep getting better and better and Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe is my favourite of Debbie’s books to date. It has everything that I look for in a great summer read; a beautiful seaside location, a heartwarming romance, colourful characters that feel like friends and delicious descriptions of yummy food – I only wish it was real so I could visit!

Set on the gorgeous Dorset coast, Summer At The Comfort Food Cafe follows Laura Walker and her children Nate and Lizzie as they leave their Manchester home for a summer by the coast. On impulse Laura responds to a rather quirky advert for help at the brilliantly named Comfort Food Cafe. Her heartfelt application (which made me shed a tear on the train) wins her the job and her summer adventure is set.

Laura’s husband David died two years ago and ever since, the family have been trying to come to terms with life without him. The opening chapters of the book where Laura describes the impact of David’s loss on her and their teenage children Nate and Lizzie are sure to tug on even the sturdiest of heart strings but what I loved most about Debbie’s writing was the warmth and humour (even in the darkest moments) that shone through. I felt like I knew Laura immediately and made an instant connection to the book that meant I had to find out what would happen to the family next.

Debbie’s descriptions of the Dorset coast and countryside are beautiful and as the family arrived in Budbury and discover their holiday home of Hyacinth House, I couldn’t wait for them to start exploring. Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe is a very funny book and Laura’s arrival encounter with handsome neighbour Matt had me giggling. Debbie has a wicked sense of comedy and I could easily picture the scenes she wrote.

What struck me most about this novel was the theme of family throughout. Laura, Nate and Lizzie are the prime example, but Laura’s relationship with her sister and parents is also wonderful and many of the other characters in the book have wonderful families too, even if they might be a long way away. It was nice to read a book that celebrated family relationships so well.

Missing family members is also a theme and this is where Cherie and the Comfort Food Cafe comes in. There’s something almost magical about the cafe and the comfort it provides as Cherie makes a special effort to bring some cheer into the lives of her regular customers. The variety of characters that Debbie has created is wonderful and I loved them all with their different quirks but my personal favourites were Edie (her story is very poignant) and Surfer Sam (I do love a surfer!).

As you’ve probably guessed, the Comfort Food cafe provides so much more than food and I loved the sense of community in the story. With characters young and old and from so many different situations, there’s something for everyone in Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe. I was planning to end my review with a plea to Debbie to visit the characters again as I really didn’t want to leave them at the end of the book BUT I’ve just spotted that Debbie will be releasing a new novel later in the year called … Christmas At The Comfort Food Cafe. To say I’m excited is an understatement – yippee!


Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

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

Find out more about Debbie Johnson and her writing at:

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