The Beach Café (by Lucy Diamond)

I’ve read a couple of Lucy Diamond’s books and liked them, so I was pleased when a friend, who bought this second-hand, passed it on to me with the comment that she thought I might enjoy it. It’s sat on my to-be-read shelf for a while and I finally picked it up a few days ago.

‘The Beach Café’ is told in the first person by a young woman called Evie. She’s always felt as if she were the black sheep of the family; indeed the opening scene tells us how one of her older sisters suggested she should be called ‘black sheep’, after her favourite nursery rhyme, when she was born.

Both Evie’s sisters are respectably married with children, and have - or have had - successful careers. But Evie has drifted about, currently temping as a secretary in a very depressing job, and thinking about teacher training. Not that she wants to teach, but she’s been living with the highly organised and very structured Matthew for the past seven years, and he tries to make her take life more seriously.

Then a family tragedy happens and Evie finds herself unexpectedly the owner of a beach café in Cornwall. It’s a long way from Oxford, where she and Matthew live, and everyone in the family assume she will sell it. But Evie decides to see for herself, and gradually gets caught up in the life of the village, clashing initially with several people but gradually being accepted….

It’s not just a story about a change of circumstances, though. Inevitably there’s a romance, mostly low-key, and Evie herself matures as she makes decisions that others disapprove of, spreads her wings as she tries new things, takes risks with people she employs and fires…

It took me a while to get into the book, which - as seems to be typical with this author - is quite informal in style. It doesn’t have a lot of twists and turns or surprises, nor different perspectives, as it’s all told in the first person. But gradually the characters got under my skin; the teenagers and a small boy are very well portrayed, and one or two sections quite moving.

All in all I enjoyed it; it’s not a particularly short book but I found it hard to put down towards the end, and finished it in just a couple of days. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes this kind of lightweight women’s fiction, and look forward to reading more by this author in future.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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