Book Review: Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

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My latest book review is of Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson.

My name is Willow Longville. I live in a village called Budbury on the stunning Dorset coast with my mum Lynnie, who sometimes forgets who I am. I’m a waitress at the Comfort Food Café, which is really so much more than a café … it’s my home.

For Willow, the ramshackle café overlooking the beach, together with its warm-hearted community, offers friendship as a daily special and always has a hearty welcome on the
menu. But when a handsome stranger blows in on a warm spring breeze, Willow soon realises that her quiet country life will be changed forever. (Thanks Amazon)

Ok so yet again I read a book in a series without having read the previous novels in the series.  I even have Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe, yet still I read this one first!  I am pleased to confirm though that it really didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the rest of the series first, and I will be going back to read it shortly!

So this novel is centred around Willow Longville, a young woman who lives in the village of Budbury with her mother.  Her siblings are long gone, encouraged by their slightly (ok more than slightly) hippy mother to experience the world and the adventures within it.  However leaving home is just not an option for Willow, as her mother Lynnie has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Instead she works at the Comfort Food Cafe, runs her own cleaning business and is supported by her many friends within the village as she has to watch her mother decline due to this truly terrible disease.

Alzheimers features heavily in this novel, and whilst I don’t know a great deal about this illness, I know enough to realise that it doesn’t just ravage the sufferer: the impact it has on loved ones is profound as the person you’ve grown up with slowly forgets things, including you.  I was really impressed with the way that Johnson portrays this in this novel.  It is sympathetic whilst also being realistic: Willow is supported by her friends but she is ultimately alone in caring for a mother who sometimes doesn’t even know who she is.

Enter Tom Mulligan, the Edward Cullen type figure, full of mystery, found bathing in a pond (except he was less sparkly, obviously).  Tom has bought Briarwood, also know as the House on the Hill.  It is a dark, gothic building that in a former life was a childrens home.  Willow is hired to clean the house, and as a result meets Tom, a socially awkward but very attractive man, providing us with a lovely romance!

I enjoyed this novel far more than I was expecting.  It explores a debilitating illness and its effects on the sufferer and their loved ones.  It also looks at the complexities of family, and finally, we get a good old-fashioned romance thrown in.  I will definitely be going back to read Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe so that I can learn more about Willow’s fellow villagers, and shall be picking up copies of Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe and Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe soon.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins for a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

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