Sunday, 30 September 2012
Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan
I'm not an expert on chick lit by any means, but this book was far from the best in the genre. The basic plot was an interesting one, and I loved how the recipes Issy used were included at the start of each chapter but overall, Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe was missing a hefty dose of realism. I'm not saying I expect chick-lit to deal with heavy issues all the time, there's nothing wrong with a bit of escapism, but this was ridiculous. Issy straight away finds a location for her shop, magically has just the right amount of money, is able to open in a matter of weeks despite everything needing a re-fit, gets the first bank loan she applies for, meets the perfect employee by chance and has no issues with health and safety regulations, licencing etc. If opening a business was really that easy, everyone would do it. It was also astounding how quickly Issy was able to go from struggling to make ends meet to turning a generous profit. There was no real sense of the worry involved in starting up a business.
The characterisation was lazy too. Issy was relatable but almost everyone else was a stereotype from the bad boy boyfriend to the responsible 'other man' looking after his baby brother, to the snobby yummy mummies with designer prams, to the resentful council estate Mum who over-feeds her baby boy with junk, to the builders only wanting bacon sandwiches and commenting on 'posh birds'. Colgan was clearly trying to say something about class issues but it came across as very clumsy and simplistic. Colgan does attempt to give these characters some depth by the end of the novel but doesn't quite succeed. Even the romance part of the novel was lacking as it relied on Issy being completely ignorant about how uncaring Graeme was, which was so obvious in the text that it made Issy look a bit stupid.
My review so far of this book has been very harsh. It wasn't all bad - Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe was easy to read and certainly provided some escapism. But I just don't see why books should be allowed to be so uninspiring just because they are chick lit. Next time I crave something from this genre, I think I'll stick to Marian Keyes.
Source: Personal copy (kindle)
First Published: 2011
Score: 2 out of 5
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I've not heard of Marian Keyes. I need something light and fun sometimes too. I hope things went well this week!ReplyDelete
Marian Keyes isn't exactly light and fluffy but she writes the best chick lit I've read. My week was busy but the school trip was a lot of fun :)Delete
I have the one about the sweet shop which i hope will be a bit better. I don't mind a bit of silliness as logn as the characters are well developed but doesn't sound like she got that right here. I wouldn't read Marian Keyes as a light read though as she deals with some quite depressing subjects! Chick lit is like any genre there is breath-taking to boring and everything in between :)ReplyDelete
I was thinking about getting that one too but think I will give it a miss now. I agree that fluffy is fine as long as the characters are strong.Delete
Everybody likes some fluff every once and a while, but I'm with you. I don't much like it if things are *too* unrealistic. It just becomes a distraction for me. If I'm too busy scoffing at ridiculous plot turns and characters that, for example, say things that no real person would ever say, it makes it hard to enjoy a book. ;-)ReplyDelete
Yes, it was distracting how easy everything was for Issy. The characters had believable dialogue but it was hard to believe that Issy couldn't see what a cad Graeme was!Delete
Have you tried Emily Giffin's books? I've liked most of hers.ReplyDelete
I've listened to Something Borrowed on audio, which I did like. Must check out the rest some time...Delete
I do find it fascinating to hear what other readers turn to for comfort and escapism when life all gets a bit much. I have a little handful of chick lit books for the times I need something easy that's NOT a children's book (my usual port of call!). If you're a bit of a foodie, one I stumbled across that sounds as if it may fill the gaps for you this one appears to have had is 'Georgia's Kitchen' bu Jenny Nelson - Gallery Books 2010. It moves between New York and Italy, there is the loss of a prime chef's job combined with a nasty breakup and subsequent relationship explorations - and lots of lovely foodie stuff...ReplyDelete
If you're a foodie, I'd also seriously recommend an absolute gem I found some time ago and keep re-reading - not chick lit, this is one of those exquisite, unexpected finds - 'The School of Essential Ingredients', Erica Bauermeister, Harper Collins, 2009. Beautiful, beautiful little book.
I already have School of Essential Ingredients on my wish list but hadn't heard of Georgia's Kitchen before. Both sound good, thank you for the thoughtful recommendations :)Delete
I completely understand your frustration. I always read chick lit with some reservations. I read a Jane Green book recently and was irritated by similar things. I thought Green could have really worked with some issues, but everything just had unbelievably easy resolutions.ReplyDelete
How have you been Sam? Yeah, Jenny Colgan's books don't rank among my favourite chicklit books. I remember reading one of her books only because it was included as a free gift with some girlie magazine. Wasn't too impressed back then either.ReplyDelete
As for titles with cake in it, I've got "Baking cakes in Kigali" and "How to Eat a Cupcake: A Novel" still waiting to be read. Maybe one of them will entice you? :)
Some escapism is good though, it takes away some of the worry and stress you may be feeling. Hope you're doing ok!
I liked Jenny Colgan's first few books, which were a little bit quirky, but she lost me when she went rather more chic lit. Few authors have the necessary lightness of touch to bring this sort of book off well. I've liked Lucy Dillon and Ali Harris recently, and Lisa Jewell in the past.ReplyDelete
I'd agree that Marion Keyes is darker, but she does what she does very well. I haven't been as taken with her more recent books - and I haven't read the last one - but her new one looks like it could be a return to form.
Chick lit is great for an escape - too bad this one wasn't great.ReplyDelete