Saturday, December 14, 2013

Review: Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

Synopsis:  Issy Randal grew up around her grandpa's bakery, where he understood the value of great-tasting baked goods and drawing in the community.  As an adult, Issy has been laid off, and from her corporate job where she was dating the boss.  She realized that the boss might not have been the "love of her life," as he kicked her to the curb pretty quickly after she left the job. 

With her time off and a bit of unemployment rolling in, she took the plunge and opened up a bakery, hoping to finally put her skills and talents to use.  With her new bakery, she found a new host of friends, a new neighborhood, and a host of money problems that only her cute, single banker could hopefully help her out with.

Review:  This is quintessentially a story about remaking one's life from a real low point and having faith in a dream unrealized.  Issy Randal is a young woman who grew up around her grandfather's bakery, where he pulled together a community after the war with his sweet treats.  Now, Issy was trying to get her grandfather to help her pull her own life together after losing her job, by remembering his recipes and giving her advice on how best to run a bakery of her own.

While the story is really about Issy and how she pulls together her life, I liked the back story with her grandfather.  There is the beginning of the novel when Issy loses her job (trust me, I'm not giving anything away there) that we are introduced to her boss and boyfriend, who really crushes her self confidence.  I hated to see how she allowed this one guy to break her!  It was so much better to watch the recipes and people she met through the bakery to transform her life, which is essentially what the real purpose of the book ends up being about.

Each chapter features a sweet treat and recipe, which then also follows another step in Issy's life.  Getting the bakery isn't an easy transition, as we can imagine.  Luckily--and ironically enough--Issy's banker is a nice, young single guy who takes a chance on her, but who also has his own interesting back story.  He finds Issy's sweet treats and story very endearing and wants to believe that she can make it, but wonders if she can really beat the odds.

On the whole, I found the story to be a quick and easy read.  There were sections of the book near the middle that lagged a bit, and where I did feel that I knew what was going to happen, but I can't say that this dissuaded me from finishing the story.   While I found Issy likable, I also couldn't completely relate to her in other ways.  She was a bit gullible and vulnerable, which is how the range of characters should be--as varied as there are people in the world, so I went with it. 

The recipes are sweet and made me wish I could bake a little better.  The story is a tad predictable, but still generous and giving.  I just always wish that I lived a little bit closer to a bakery or could read IN a bakery while reading a book like this!


  1. I also wish there was a bakery near me. I need my bread!

    1. I love bread, but I hate feeling like I have to eat it so fast. Inevitably, I just end up not buying it. :(