Evie Flynn has always felt like the black sheep of her family. Whilst her siblings have gotten married and have steady jobs, Evie finds herself moving from temp job to temp job, still searching for the job of her dreams. But when her Auntie Jo dies and leaves Evie her beloved beach cafe in Cornwall, Evie finally feels as though her life has purpose.She leaves Oxford and her boyfriend Matthew behind and begins trying to make her Auntie proud. Things are tough at first, but soon things begin to pick up and Evie becomes a dab-hand at running the beach cafe, but could new romance be on the horizon with chef Ed? One thing’s for sure, it’ll be an unforgettable summer for Evie...
I’ve been a big fan of Lucy Diamond since I read her second novel Over You back in 2008. I really enjoyed the book and have since read Lucy’s newest books Hens Reunited and Sweet Temptation. So it’s no surprise that when I heard of her new book The Beach Cafe that I really wanted to read it too and I was thrilled to receive a proof copy. It sounded like an idyllic summer read so to take me away from the unexpected cloudy Tenerife weather, I dove in hoping for another fab read from Lucy.
The first thing I’d like to say is that the synopsis is a bit misleading. Yes, Evie’s aunt Jo does die and yes, Evie inherits her beach cafe, but it takes absolutely ages for Evie to literally up sticks from Oxford to move down to Cornwall to make a success of it. It takes until Chapter Eleven for all of that to kick in (a whopping 173 pages) and up until then, Evie flip-flops over what to do with the beach cafe, will she sell it? Will she run it from Oxford? etc etc. and I have to admit, it drove me nuts. Her indecision drove me to distraction. I completely understand she had her relationship with Matthew to consider as well as her temp jobs (that she hated) but God, your Auntie dies suddenly, leaves you her beach cafe and you even contemplate selling it? That just didn’t resonate with me. I expected Evie to rush down there, to keep her Auntie’s legacy going, but she doesn’t. She doesn’t do anything until the chef, Carl, leaves forcing her into action.
When Evie eventually makes up her mind, or rather, has it made for her, the book does pick up. You just have to get past Evie’s constant inability to decide what she wants, rather than what her family want (and considering she’s meant to be the black sheep, I do think it’s strange she wanted her family’s approval so bad). There’s even a very interesting story about a runaway named Phoebe that occurs, which I liked very much. I also enjoyed seeing Evie build the beach cafe up again, and doing her Auntie Jo proud. That saved the book for me, because otherwise I just wouldn’t have continued, it’s that simple. It’s fair to say that Carrawen Bay is very much a community, despite the numerous tourists, and I liked the spirit of the place, I could see how Evie proved herself to everyone else, I could see it all becoming so much better and I loved it.
The characters were interesting, to say the least. Evie’s lack of ability to make a decision was mildly irritating but her spirit for the cafe when she finally went down to Carrawen Bay helped to make up for that. I liked the fact she changed her mind about selling and decided to make a go of it, no matter what happened, no matter what the people of Carrawen Bay thought. But my favourite character without a doubt was Phoebe. She’s a teenager (I think, as far as I can remember, her age wasn’t mentioned) and a runaway who Evie becomes friends with and I loved her. She was sparky and I felt really sorry for her that she ended up sleeping rough. I also liked Rachel who waitresses for Evie at the beach cafe. Ed was an interesting character, it’s obvious from the beginning he has some secrets and I was very much interested in learning them and I thought he was a welcome addition to the book.
But, alas, my love for the novel didn’t last. I expect a lot of predictability when I read Chick Lit. Duh, being predictable is practically a staple when reading Chick Lit, but instead of enjoying all the predictabilities of The Beach Cafe, instead I found myself getting really really irritated. Sometimes I want something a bit different to the heroine falling madly in love with someone who she thinks doesn’t like her back when he does. Sometimes I don’t want the heroine to jump off the deep end about the hero’s secret and have it all end in tears. It doesn’t always have to be like that and eventually I get so fed up of it that the book I’m reading at the time suffers hugely from my backlash. And this happened whilst reading The Beach Cafe. At times I wanted to stop reading the book because it was tempting me to grind my teeth. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for the book, and I think I’ve been overdosing on the more predictable Chick Lit lately and The Beach Cafe suffered for it, which is a shame but I just wasn’t feeling it.