The Lemon Tree Café by Cathy Bramley
Opening sentence: “The executive office of Digital Horizons had an amazing view right across Derby city centre, but I wasn’t looking out of the window.”
This is not typically the type of book I’d be drawn to, the cover is too cutesy to appeal to me. However, as this was a birthday gift, I read the back blurb and liked what was there. It was also a matter of great timing, I was feeling a bit run-down and in the mood for reading something easy, reassuring and uplifting, and The Lemon Tree Café ticked all those boxes. Every time I picked it up, it really did feel like the next episode in a cosy Sunday-night drama, set in a picturesque village with charming, if not a tad eccentric characters.
We meet Rosie Featherstone, a social media whizz who quits her high-power job and while looking for another, helps out her Italian grandmother (Nonna) in her village café. While she is there, we meet all the colourful local characters – from the other shop owners to Rosie’s sister Lia and her potential love interest, Gabe. Rosie must choose between leaving this village she is warming to more every day and go back to a job in the city, or stay and let her life take on a whole new direction.
High-drama is thrust upon the village when a huge company buys the local garden centre and poses a threat to the livelihood of all the local shops. While dealing with this, both Rosie and her Nonna also have dark secrets in their pasts that they need to address in order to move on with their lives and find happiness. So, there is definitely enough in the plot line to keep you turning the pages, and I liked the positive moral messages running throughout: don’t think that everything bad that happens to you is your fault and don’t let the big guys grind you down. Sound advice.
Yes, there was more than a few cliches in there and from about 1/3 of the way through, the ending was predictable, but thinking about it, I would have been disappointed if the ending wasn’t what I was expecting. The feel-good conclusion is the whole point of a book like this. If you don’t get that, then why would you read it? This book is about overcoming adversity as opposed to unexpected twists and a knife-edge ending, and I’m fine with that. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would, so I guess there may be some truth in, ‘never judge a book by its cover’. Oh, it also includes recipes for the delicious cakes served in the Lemon Tree Café. A very nice touch if you’re a fan of baking. Which I am.