Reading The Pretty Delicious Café is like watching a rom-com with a cup of chamomile tea. So wonderfully digestible, light-hearted and genuinely witty, it didn’t take me long to feel invested in the characters and their stories, and start yearning for the (although foreseeable), gloriously satisfying happy ending.
It is Danielle Hawkins’ (Chocolate for Breakfast, Dinner at Rose’s) third book, with which the Otorohanga writer has re-inspired me to read for the sheer joy of it. My book choices in the last year have been largely to do with learning and challenging myself. Mostly, this has lead me to heady non-fiction and twisty-turny plots that are hard to keep track of. While I still enjoy these, reading The Pretty Delicious Café was just so easy, and like dark chocolate cookies, I just couldn’t get enough!
Lia, the protagonist, and her best friend, Anna run a café in a small New Zealand town. Coming to the end of their first year, the girls and their efforts begin to tire – just in time for Anna’s wedding to Lia’s twin brother Rob, and the somewhat complicated arrival of a handsome mechanic. Throw in a slightly mad ex-boyfriend, an earthy mom and a hint of telepathy and you have our story.
I love that Pretty Delicious is set in New Zealand, with down-to-earth kiwi characters who talk about farming, swimming at the beach in your undies and how everyone seems to know each other – an echo of my real life surroundings. I too live in a small town near the beach, and know how quickly everyone can know your business, but also how supportive a community can be. You learn to appreciate the variety of characters you have in one small place – each one a valuable part of what makes it special.
I think the success of Pretty Delicious comes from strong writing. Danielle Hawkins writes the characters so believably and with such flawless consistency, that you kind of think they must exist somewhere in real life. Yes, the story has a lot of sweet, maybe even a little sickly moments when the characters awkwardly bumble in their relationships, but I have to admit, there’s a part of me that loves it! Hawkins balances this though, with enough humor, action and interesting description to stop things becoming too predictable or boring. Plus of course, the novel is dotted with a hundred absolutely delicious sounding treats and recipes!
A perfect holiday read, for those who want a light, warming story, set in a delightfully familiar place.