Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The Bluebird Cafe

'The Bluebird Café' by Rebecca Smith (who I discover is distantly related to Jane Austen) was picked up at a charity shop the other day, as light relief from the fairly demanding stuff I seem to have been reading. The story focusses on Lucy and Paul who open the Bluebird Café in a rundown corner of Southampton, and the random selection of quirky characters they find themselves linked to. John Vir runs the corner shop across the road, struggling to cope with his teenage children after the departure of his wife, and who is a little in love with Lucy. Gilbert has been unemployed for years, suddenly finds himself working as a bin man and attaches himself to Lucy and Paul's establishment, mooching food from them in exchange for unwelcome assistance. A brief exchange between Mavis and her local councillor Bette Doon launches another slightly unwelcome relationship as she comes to think of Cllr Doon as her own personal public servant. Lucy has visions of her little café becoming a hub for the local creative intellectuals, a somewhat naive and romantic dream that is crushed by the reality of the grinding hard work. The book is a gentle tale of the growing relationships between the characters and their quiet corner of the world, centred around the café, the shop and the Badger Centre where Paul volunteers. It runs its almost inevitable course to baby and domestic and financial stability and a comfortable happy ever after for everyone. It was nicely written and well observed, and left me pleasantly content.

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