Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe: a very pink book

Thursday, June 02, 2011

I read a lot of important books. It's true. I read about science, philosophy and there's always a Penguin Classic next to my bed. But - just sometimes - you need to read something that's really fun. Something that doesn't make your synapses samba, or your eyes hurt from re-reading the same bits over and over again.

And then I saw this: Jenny Colgan's Meet Me at The Cupcake Cafe.

It's pink. And embossed. I don't think you realise just how pink it is.

It's advertised on hundreds of tube stations. I haven't seen anyone read it yet, but when I saw it on Waterstone's home page -- well.

Let's just say it arrived in my postbox, all wrapped up in bubble wrap in a white envelope. And there it sat for about two weeks as I worked, read and knitted my way through various other things.

Then, finally, I read it one Friday afternoon in one sitting, as I waited patiently for the Mister to come home (he was late, I was happily reading). It's an enthralling read that's super easy to get through and doesn't require any thought in a very good way. There were moments when I was shocked out of the book and I became acutely aware that it was, in fact, a story and not a real person's life, but they were few and easily glossed over as Colgan's recipes made their debut at the beginning of every chapter. The recipes are delightful tidbits, fodder for any baker, and wonderfully adapted to the story. My favourite recipe is titled, Orange Cupcakes with Marmalade Icing for a Grumpy Day. I may very well make these.

The story is about Issy, property administrator by day, baker by night. The recipes in each chapter are family secret recipes from her elderly grandfather in a nursing home. She's a lovely person, it seems: very normal, very scared of making leaps and bounds -- that is, until she loses her job (don't worry, this is all on the back of the book jacket!) and suddenly has to make some very big life decisions. For fun, her name, her birthday and her partner's name are all very similar to my own. We had a little chuckle about that when I was telling the Mister all about it afterwards. Cue 'Cupcake Cafe', dream jobs, sad interventions and ultimately happy endings. It was everything I thought it would be, and it was  very pleasant to read. I was mildly disappointed that it didn't last a lot longer than a single seating, and I was vaguely annoyed at the ending which was all really just too much icing-on-cake-like for me, but it was what it was, and that's really what you sign up for in the first place, anyway. It's a nicely-written novel with an easily-anticipated storyline that is charming and friendly. In a word, it's really nice.

Read with cakes and coffee.

Read it in a number of short sittings.

Read it particularly when you feel dissatisfied with your job and you know that resigning now is a bad idea but really you have to do what you want to do and it'd be awfully nice to hear about someone (however fictional) who got it right.

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