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02 June 2016

Rambling About.. Jenny Colgan's Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe

Title: Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe
Author: Jenny Colgan
Amazon Description:
Issy Randall can bake. No, Issy can create stunning, mouthwateringly divine cakes. So when she loses her desk job, she starts her own café and finds life can be tougher, and sweeter, than she ever dreamed.

After a childhood spent in her beloved Grampa Joe's bakery, Issy has undoubtedly inherited his talent. She's much better at baking than she is at filing so when she's laid off from her desk job, Issy decides to open her own little café. But she soon learns that her piece-of-cake plan will take all of her courage and confectionary talent to avert disaster.

Funny and sharp, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café is about how life might not always taste like you expect, but there's always room for dessert!
First Lines:

Faves on 4s:
(format: epub on Windows tablet - Book Bazaar Reader App - 416 pages - 2 page layout landscape)
pg 14 - By the time she was ready to start work, Gramps's bakeries were all sold: victims of getting older and the changing times. And she had an education, he had pointed out (sadly, she sometimes thought); she didn't want to be getting up at sparrow's fart and doing hard manual labor for the rest of her life. She was set for better things.
pg 54 - 'You mean to say you were just tolerating me because of my delicious cakes?' said Issy, stung.
            'No,' said François. 'Also because you were shagging the boss.'
pg 114 - If she would put the hours in, devote her entire life to cakes and nothing but, then it was just ... just about possible. Maybe.
pg 184 - '...So don't think they're all going to gang up against you, they can't even manage to gang up to clean their own toilet, as I noticed when I had to take Darny in there one day in an emergency. Does dreadful things to the digestion, too much vegan food.'
pg 224 - 'Did you know my granddaughter uses an electric whisk on meringues? After everything I've taught her!'
pg 284 - He was sure there was something in the banking manual about not getting too close to your clients. Of course he'd never read the manual.
pg 314 - 'You asked him to spy!'
              'You use a microwave! What next, margarine?'
              'Never,' said Issy vehemently.
pg 384 - 'You have to realize, Issy,' she said, speaking kindly but firmly. It was a voice Issy had heard Helena using when she had to pass on bad news. 'This is normal. This is part of the process.'
pg 404 - Use good-quality ingredients. If you put butter on your bread, why would you put margarine in a cake? If you eat nice chocolate, why would you use cooking chocolate in a cake? A cake can only be as nice as the ingredients going into it.

You know how you pretty much figure out how a book is going to work out when you've read so many in any given genre? Well, a "chick lit" typically has a happy ending after some sort of close call and life altering events. There's almost always at least one good friend who tells it like it is and at least one character who is surprisingly not as hideous as you think they are when they first appear.

Yep. This ticked all the criteria ... but it did so while also making my laugh and cry and swoon and shake my fist in rage. It's not often that all of the emotional boxes are ticked!

I love Issy and her friends and customers, but the part of the story that got to me the most at every turn is that of Grampa Joe.

Issy asked him to provide her with recipes from when she was growing up and almost every chapter begins with one of his recipes. There are others scattered in (including one that I will never ever EVER try since even the two-year-old in the story spit it out), but Grampa Joe's entries are the funniest and most heartbreaking. My grampa was a farmer, not a baker .... but my mom? She was my go-to for all things food related. Eons ago my aunt was given a set of index cards of old family recipes as a wedding present (I believe) by my mom that she has since gifted me. If I had had any warning that my mom was going to pass away as early as she did I would have made sure she had written down more.

Anyway, Grampa Joe is in an assisted living facility and suffering from dementia. The love the two have for each other, as well as the frustrating heartbreak associated with his disease, reminded me of my own grandfather who passed almost exactly 5 years before my mom. Colgan wrote it with such accuracy right to the very end that tears flowed easily. I got a couple of concerned looks from fellow-commuters on the bus but I'm getting used to that.

I've got the sequel already lined up as part of  my Christmas in July so I won't have to wait long to find out what's happening with everyone. Maybe by then I'll even have this as a tablet cover so people just leave me alone:

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