Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Review: The Cafe By the Sea

The Cafe By the Sea
By Jenny Colgan
Published: June 27, 2017

Years ago, Flora fled the quiet Scottish island where she grew up -- and she hasn't looked back. What would she have done on Mure? It's a place where everyone has known her all her life, where no one will let her forget the past. In bright, bustling London, she can be anonymous, ambitious... and hopelessly in love with her boss.
But when fate brings Flora back to the island, she's suddenly swept once more into life with her brothers (all strapping, loud and seemingly incapable of basic housework) and her father. Yet even amid the chaos of their reunion, Flora discovers a passion for cooking -- and finds herself restoring dusty little pink-fronted shop on the harbour: a café by the sea.
But with the seasons changing, Flora must come to terms with past mistakes... and work out exactly where her future lies...
Funny and heartfelt, The Café by the Sea is a delightful summertime novel that puts a modern twist on the classic Seven Brides for Seven Brothers story. 

My review:
Flora MacKenzie hasn't been back to Mure in years. Not since a tragic loss hit her family. She is focused on her career and new life in London where she has a tiny apartment and a huge crush on her boss, Joel. Then when her firm's important new client, American multibillionaire Colton Rogers, who happens to own property on Mure, needs legal assistance he specifically requests Flora's help even though she is a paralegal. Joel gives her no choice but to go home to Mure to work on the case. Things are rocky with her family and some in the community who are not pleased that she ditched everyone for the bright lights of London. 
It is really hard for Flora to be back on Mure, facing the sorrow she left behind. Her family initially gives her a hard time, especially her brother Fintan who I wanted to punch several times. The MacKenzies have a dairy farm on Mure and it is facing hard times. That isn't the only change Flora finds when she returns. Fewer businesses and fewer people live on the island due to the economy and the locals aren't pleased that she is working for Colton Rogers who they view as an outsider who doesn't care about Mure. Flora has her work cut out for her as she hopes to win people over for her firm's sake but as she spends more time on Mure she remembers all the good things about her beautiful island home.
The Cafe By the Sea is a charming story with such a lovely setting. Flora is a really likable protagonist. I felt so bad for her as she returned home and tried to come to terms with loss and the changes and the way people were treating her at first. I was glad that she had a good friend in Lorna and gradually others warmed up to her and she started to see that not everyone was upset with her. Something that I've noticed in Jenny Colgan's books is that she creates these wonderful communities with warmhearted and caring people and that is the same here.
Of course there is also a romance. Flora is in love with her boss (Joel) who doesn't really notice her till he visits Mure and sees her in a new light. He initially comes across as a jerk but then we get his backstory and understand why he is the way he is. He changes as the book progresses too.  There is also a local guy who is interested in Flora and I won't tell you who she ends up with!
I listened to the audio book which I mostly enjoyed. The narrator did a great job with the Scottish voices. It was wonderful to listen to. The only downside was that her American voices were terrible and as two of the characters are American (Colton and Joel) it lessened my enjoyment a little. Her voice for Flora's niece Agat also grated but Agat didn't have as many lines which helped.
Overall I really liked this book. The setting was fantastic and the heroine was someone I really rooted for. Also the food descriptions made me hungry! The book includes recipes though I probably won't try them. I kind of hope the author will write a sequel so we can revisit Mure and its zany residents. If you like Scotland, village life or foodie fiction, consider picking this up!


  1. I just finished this book two days ago! It was so cute; I definitely loved the setting and the community of Mure. I now want to check out some of Colgan's other novels. Great review, Christina!

  2. I keep waiting to for my public library to order this one either on Overdrive or the print book. I really enjoy her books. Glad you liked it.

  3. I have this book on my list, as I loved the author's The Bookshop on the Corner. Thanks for a great review.


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