The 24-Hour Cafe
by Libby Page
It’s my stop on the “The 24-Hour Cafe” blog tour! Thanks very much to Compulsive Readers, Orion and author Libby Page who have kindly provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
If you’d like to learn more about this book, check out the other blogs on the tour, see what people have to say on Goodreads and head over to the author’s website. If this sounds like your kind of thing, you’ll find the book on Kindle and paperback on Amazon UK.
Welcome to the café that never sleeps. Day and night Stella’s Café opens its doors for the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It is many things to many people but most of all it is a place where life can wait at the door. A place of small kindnesses. A place where anyone can be whoever they want, where everyone is always welcome.
Meet Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They work at Stella’s but they dream of more, of leaving the café behind and making their own way in life.
Come inside and spend twenty-four hours at Stella’s Café; a day when Hannah and Mona’s friendship will be tested, when the community will come together and when lives will be changed…
I haven’t actually read Libby Page’s previous book ‘The Lido’, but I seem to be one of the only people who hasn’t and I’ve read nothing but positive reviews for it. ‘The 24-Hour Cafe’ was hotly anticipated and I was really glad to get the opportunity to give it a try for this blog tour.
The story, as you might imagine, all occurs in a 24-hour cafe opposite Liverpool Street Station. It’s a quirky London cafe with a taxidermy bear behind the counter, and some of the customers who come in are pretty quirky too.
This book covers a 24 hour period, exploring the lives of the people who pop in, from the Big Issue seller outside, to the drunk students who wander in during the early hours, from the businessmen wanting a quick coffee to the couple passing time while they wait for a coach to the airport. Some of these stories are fleeting and others are more detailed. I particularly liked the stories of Sonja, a young woman worrying about rain on her wedding day and Joe and Haziq whose lives are being ripped apart because of immigration law.
As well as the customers, this story explores the friendship between the two main waitresses, Hannah and Mona. Both girls have been working in the cafe for a while, trying to pay the bills while they struggle to find work as the artists they dream of being. They’re 30 years old and so much of their friendship and their histories was relatable for me. I felt some similarities between this and Anna Hope’s ‘Expectation‘ with the idea that for these women, life isn’t really how they’d have planned it to be by now.
I really liked Mona and Hannah and their friendship too. They were great leading characters and I was glad to read their different perspectives on the same events, making you realise that what people say may not be what they are truly thinking. You may think that someone is happy, but in reality there’s a lot more to it.
I’d say that this is an easy read, but as well as revealing the truth within this friendship, it also covers snippets of important themes, such as immigration, homelessness, grief and post-natal depression. This book really makes you think about the people you see, or those you sit next to, without ever knowing their story, struggles, hope and dreams. There’s an important message about respect hidden in these pages, because who knows what someone else is going through.
My only critique is that I felt this was a little longer than it needed to be, but that’s definitely down to personal taste more than anything else.
Overall rating: ‘The 24-Hour Cafe’ is a lovely read which I’d definitely recommend for fans of contemporary fiction. Hannah and Mona have a wonderful friendship which feels so real and the customers they serve in the cafe have some interesting stories too. I’m giving this one 4 stars!
Don’t forget to check out the reviews of other blogs on the tour and if this sounds like your kind of book, support the author by picking up a copy on Amazon UK.
This blog tour is a long one so in addition to those listed in the above tour poster, the following blogs are also taking part: