Fiction Book Reviews

Romance | Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe | Debbie Johnson

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I’ve enjoyed the two Debbie Johnson novels I’ve read previously. Debbie’s writing style is engaging and her characters always draw me in, especially The Birthday That Changed Everything (loved, loved, loved!).  So when I saw on social media her next release was due at the end of April, I had to pre-order a copy!

Format: Kindle Edition

File Size: 1780 KB

Print Length: 347 pages

Publisher: HarperImpulse (29 April 2016)


The Comfort Food Cafe is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world, serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle cafe overlooking the beach is a beacon of laughter, companionship, and security – a place like no other; a place that offers friendship as a daily special, and where a hearty welcome is always on the menu.

For widowed mum-of-two Laura Walker, the decision to uproot her teenaged children and make the trek from Manchester to Dorset for the summer isn’t one she takes lightly, and it’s certainly not winning her any awards from her kids, Nate and Lizzie. Even her own parents think she’s gone mad.

Her new job at the cafe, and the hilarious people she meets there, give Laura the chance she needs to make new friends; to learn to be herself again, and – just possibly – to learn to love again as well.

For her, the Comfort Food Cafe doesn’t just serve food – it serves a second chance to live her life to the full…


Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe begins in such a unique way with a job description and Laura’s letter in response.  Not only does it give Laura’s background but her sense of loss is palpable making sure she had my emotions from the very beginning.

The journey to Dorset with 14 year old daughter Lizzie, 12 year old son Nate and aged family dog Jimbo is long and fraught but there is humour too.  For two years Laura hasn’t known ‘who’ she is but for the first time she is optimistic (despite the fears of her parents and sister Rebecca).

Once we arrived at Budbury in Dorset I could picture it so very well.  Yes it is a fictitious place but is based on somewhere we’ve often been.  I have to mention unloading the roof box – it is so very funny! Poor Matt but at least he took everything in his stride 🙂

The Comfort Food Cafe and its VIPs give such a sense of community and warmth.  As in real life, everyone has suffered some type of loss affecting them emotionally and owner Cherie gives them a place to be themselves and heal.  I loved getting to know them.  Laura does of course have a vital part to play culminating at Frank’s 80th birthday party.  Lots of surprises!  Once again, Debbie Johnson has written a female lead who carries the story extremely well.

There are many things I loved about Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe:

  • The way a new week begins felt like I was starting a new story as it’s something the reader doesn’t know about.  I was so intrigued 🙂
  • How Frank related to Lizzie about social media!
  • Lizzie’s blossoming from a sullen teen taken away from her friends and life into a caring and thoughtful person which enriched her relationship with Laura.
  • Talking of families, Debbie Johnson writes so very well about family dynamics.
  • The reality of Matt and Laura’s relationship.
  • How the personal culinary tastes of the VIPs are catered for – as well as the new recipes!

There were some sad moments too which nothing could have changed.  I guarantee that these will affect you.

After the story, Debbie Johnson gives background on where the story is set.  There’s recipes and 10 top views in Dorset.  A great addition 🙂

Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe is a story of a family who’ve lost their way after loss and despite it being a madcap idea, find friendship, love and healing on a working holiday.  If you’re looking for inspiration you’ll find it here along with hope that things can change if you step out of your comfort zone and try something new.

Connect with Debbie Johnson

Twitter @debbiemjohnson

Facebook Page debbiejohnsonauthor

I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 9+ years. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school.

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