Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan - a book review

Book Review: Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

Title: Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe

Author: Jenny Colgan

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Publication date: July 2, 2019

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Summary: Issy Randall was raised in her grandfather’s bakery, but, instead of opening her own, she got an office job in London and moved her grandfather into a nursing home. When she’s abruptly laid off and seemingly loses her boyfriend/ex-boss, she takes it as the perfect opportunity to open her own cafe. It’s a slow start with a single employee, someone she met in a class for those who had been laid off, but, with the support of friends and a very handsome banker, she manages to get her cafe off the ground. Until her ex-boss, with something up his sleeve, steps back into her life.

I was charmed by this book and absolutely loved the recipes peppered throughout, especially since some of them were written in Issy’s grandfather’s loving voice. It was a sweet novel full of friendship and unexpected love. But, while I enjoyed it, I had a love-hate relationship with it the entire time.

Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe is charming and perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth. I did enjoy it and loved it to a certain degree. It’s everything you could possibly want in a women’s fiction book. There’s the cast of caring, if a bit troubled, ladies; the handsome prospective boyfriend; the cad of an ex; a charming locale; and the focus on friendship with a hint of romance thrown in. It’s a perfect women’s fiction novel, perfect for anyone who loves them. It has all the elements and does them well, and I must admit it had me wandering into my kitchen to whip up some cupcakes myself, though they probably weren’t anywhere near to the perfection Issy can do effortlessly.

At the same time, everything that makes this book a perfect women’s fiction novel is why I hate it. It does hit every note just right. It has all the elements. And that makes it feel like a cookie cutter women’s fiction novel. It’s great if that’s what you’re looking for, but I also found myself disappointed that the author didn’t take the opportunity to tweak it a little and add something new to the genre. It almost felt like there was a template being followed.

Similarly, I had the same reaction to Issy. She was sweet and a bit naive and perhaps too optimistic for being thirty-two, especially at a time when many women aren’t even choosing to settle down and having a family until well after that age. I did like her character. She was sweet and caring and absolutely has a good heart in the right place. I like that she wasn’t perfect and wasn’t even a beautiful blonde. I also love that she showed growth as a person as the novel progressed. But her naivete and desperation made her grate on my nerves a little. She knew better, I know she knew better, but her desperation and desire for a certain life had her making mistakes that I think are more common in women younger than her.

Overall, this is a good book. The setting in an up and coming part of London, the colorful characters, the recipes, the focus on friendship rather than romance, and the sweet relationship between Issy and her grandfather were lovely. It really is a perfect women’s fiction novel. I just wish it hadn’t toed the line so much and had taken a few chances. Still, I’ll probably be trying more than one recipe.

Personally, as a reader who would have liked a little experimentation, this would be a 3 cups of tea book. But, taken as a strict women’s fiction novel, it definitely hits all the right notes in all the right places with an interesting plot that moves along nicely and a lovely cast of characters. It’s charmingly written, so I’d give it a 5. Overall, I’d have to give this a solid 4 cups of tea.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for an electronic advance copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Check out more of my book reviews over at the Bookshelf.

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