Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe
by Jenny Colgan
I heard about one of Jenny Colgan’s books (having to do with Paris) and quickly added it to my ‘to be read’ list on Goodreads. Doing so, I realized that it wasn’t her first book in this series. I have a thing about reading in order, so I looked up book one, which was Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe, and dove right in. Well, this book was cute, sweet and funny. It would make the perfect summer read. I really loved this book and just adored Issy, the main character. One aspect of Colgan’s writing that I enjoyed was that she tells the reader what each character is thinking throughout the whole book. So, two characters might be talking and she shares both of their thoughts in the same paragraph. It’s different, but nice. Sometimes I thought the story was a little wordy, but it didn’t taint my opinion that I loved this book!
Issy is 31 years old. She has a boring, but steady desk job, a great flatmate and she’s shagging her boss (quietly, as it’s not good for his image). Life is fine and Graeme might just be getting more serious about her. Then, one day Issy gets fired. They offer her a really good package, but it’s crushing. Especially since Graeme cuts off all contact, dumping her when she got fired. After a little while, Issy gets an idea. By her old bus stop, there is a vacant store. She always imagined a little cupcake bakery there and she starts wondering if that could be a reality. Her grandfather was a baker and taught her everything. Issy is a gifted baker and after lots of thought and planning, she decides to go for it, convincing first the landlord and then the bank (care of a rather handsome banker, Austin) that she has a viable shop. Austin takes a particular interest, helping Issy at length with all the details of what she’s getting into and how to navigate paperwork, etc. Issy hires a young, single mom, Pearl to help get the shop (the Cupcake Cafe) up and running. They bond quickly and before long it’s opening day! At first business is very slow, but after a road accident outside the shop (no one getting injured), they get flooded. Spoilers: business steadily builds from that day on, and they even need to hire another person. Issy decides on Caroline (a rich, rather snobbish woman who tried to rent the shop when Issy was going for it. She is great at marketing and keeping things running, even if she can rub people the wrong way, including Pearl. But she is a good fit for the shop.). Issy has an odd relationship with Austin (who has a ten year old brother he has looked after since both their parents died). They like each other, but they have a professional relationship because he is her banker and weighs in on financial decisions. They get close to being together, but then Graeme comes back and Issy goes back to him. She realizes it’s a mistake after a little while and leaves him (he’s selfish and doesn’t get why Issy loves her shop). Then there is a huge misunderstanding. Graeme is secretly planning to force Issy out of her shop in order to develop a new apartment complex. Austin finds out because Graeme comes to his bank to get a loan for the project. Austin assumes Issy knows because she’s dating Graeme, and thinks it’s a big plot by the two of them. Of course, Issy knows nothing and this all comes out at her shop on a crazy day. Issy is already not with Graeme anymore and she’s furious about Graeme’s scheme. She’s also hurt by Austin’s assumption. Austin realizes his huge mistake and does what he can to help stop Graeme. He denies the loan and helps get Issy an opportunity to extend her lease (of course it’s ending while all of this is going on). Issy gets an extension for 18 months and the business is so successful that she expands next door. She and Austin finally hash things out and get together. This whole time her grandfather has been battling dementia. He has been writing down his old recipes and encouraging Issy every step of the way, even to the end when it looked like the shop would close. He loves long enough to know she saves the store.
Summing it up: this whole book was so sweet and very clever. It was such a fun read and so heartwarming. It’s the perfect light read and I definitely recommend it!
All the best, Abbey