Meet Me at the Cupcake Café

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café

by Jenny Colgan

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Overview

"[A] heartwarming story a la Bridget Jones' Diary with a twist... Colgan folds in a colorful cast of characters and whips up an easy, sweet read."—USA Today

A smart, quirky contemporary cupcake book of recipes and friendship, fans of Sophie Kinsella, will be heading for their mixers to create a story as sweet and complex as Issy's.

Issy Randall can bake. No, Issy can create stunning, mouthwateringly divine cakes. So when she loses her desk job, she starts her own café and finds life can be tougher, and sweeter, than she ever dreamed.

After a childhood spent in her beloved Grampa Joe's bakery, Issy has undoubtedly inherited his talent. She's much better at baking than she is at filing so when she's laid off from her desk job, Issy decides to open her own little café. But she soon learns that her piece-of-cake plan will take all of her courage and confectionary talent to avert disaster.

Funny and sharp, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café is about how life might not always taste like you expect, but there's always room for dessert!

What reviewers are saying about Meet Me At The Cupcake Café:

"A funny novel about friendship, food and love... "—Kirkus

"A delightful story... warm, funny and well-written."—Fresh Fiction

"Absolutely adorable... charming... an endearing, delightful read"—Silver's Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402281815
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 07/02/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 45,602
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

A former columnist for The Guardian, Jenny Colgan contributes regularly to national BBC radio and is the author of more than eleven bestselling novels, including her recent international bestsellers The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris published in 2014 and Welcome To Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams, which won the 2013 Romantic Novel of the Year award from the Romantic Novelists Association. She is married with three children and lives in London and France.

Read an Excerpt

Issy Randall refolded the piece of paper and smiled.

"Are you absolutely sure about this?" she said to the figure in the easy chair. "This is the recipe?" The old man nodded vehemently. He held up one finger, which Issy recognized immediately as his cue for a lecture.

"Well, the thing is," Grampa Joe began, "baking is..."

"Life," filled in Issy patiently. She'd heard the speech many times before. Her grandfather had started sweeping up in the family bakery at the age of twelve; eventually he had taken over the business and run three large bakeries in Manchester. Baking was all he knew.

"It is life. Bread is the staff of life, our most basic food."

"And very un-Atkins," said Issy, smoothing her cord skirt down over her hips and sighing. It was one thing for her grandfather to say that. He had spent his whole life skinny as a rake, thanks to a full-time diet of extremely hard physical work that started with lighting the furnace at 5:00 a.m. It was quite another when baking was your hobby, your passion-but to pay the bills you were sitting down in an office all day. It was hard to show restraint when trying out... She drifted off, thinking about the new pineapple cream recipe she'd tried that morning. The trick was to leave enough of the pith in to give the flavor bite, but not so much that it turned into a smoothie. She needed to give it another shot. Issy ran her hands over her cloudy black hair. It went well with her green eyes but created absolute bloody havoc if it rained.

"So when you describe what you're making, you must describe life. Do you see? It's not just recipes...next thing you'll tell me you're measuring in metric."

Issy bit her lip and made a mental note to hide her metric scales the next time Grampa visited the flat. He'd only get himself worked up.

"Are you listening to me?"

"Yes, Gramps!"

They both turned to look out of the window of the assisted living facility in north London. Issy had installed Joe there when it became clear he was getting too absentminded to live on his own. Issy had hated moving him down south after he'd spent his life in the north, but she needed him close enough to visit. Joe had grumbled of course but he was going to grumble anyway, moving out of his home to anywhere that wouldn't let him rise at 5:00 a.m. and start pounding bread dough. So he might as well be grumpy close by, where she could keep an eye on him. After all, it wasn't as if anyone else was around to do it. And the three bakeries, with their proud, shiny brass handles and old signs proclaiming them to be "electric bakers," were gone now; fallen prey to the supermarkets and chains that favored cheap white pulp over handcrafted but slightly more expensive loaves.

As he so often did, Grampa Joe watched the January raindrops fall across the window and read her mind.

"Have you heard from...your mother recently?" he said. Issy nodded, noting as ever how hard he found it to say his own daughter's name. Marian had never felt at home as a baker's daughter. And Issy's grandmother had died so young, she hadn't had long enough to provide a steadying influence. With Gramps working all the time, Marian had rebelled before she could even spell the word, hanging out with older boys and bad crowds from her teens, getting pregnant early to a traveling man who had given Issy her black hair and strong eyebrows and absolutely nothing else. Too much of a questing spirit to be tied down, Marian had often left her only child behind while she went off in search of herself.

Issy had spent most of her childhood in the bakery, watching Gramps as he manfully beat the dough or delicately shaped the lightest, most mouth-melting filigree cakes and pies. Although he trained bakers for each of his shops, he still liked to get his own hands white with flour, one of the reasons Randalls were once the most popular bakers in Manchester. Issy had spent countless hours doing her homework under the great Cable Street ovens, absorbing through her pores the time and skill and care of a great baker; much more conventional than her mother, she adored her gramps and felt safe and cozy in the kitchens, even though she knew, of course, that she was different from her classmates, who went home to little houses with mums and dads who worked for the council, and dogs and siblings, and ate potato waffles with ketchup in front of Neighbors and didn't wake up before the sun, the smell of warm bread already rising from far below.

Now, at thirty-one, Issy had just about forgiven her troubled, untethered mother, even though she of all people should have known what it was like growing up without your mum. She didn't care about the sports days and school outings-everyone knew her grandfather, who never missed one-and she was popular enough, rarely without a cast-off box of scones or French cakes to bring to school occasions, while her birthday party spreads were the stuff of local legend. She did wish someone in her life had cared a little more for fashion-her grandfather bought her two cotton and one woolen dress every Christmas, regardless of age, style, or size, even when everyone else she knew was in legwarmers and Pineapple T-shirts, and her mother would swoop back at regular intervals with strange hippy-style garments that she was selling at festivals, made of hemp or itchy llama wool or something else equally impractical. But Issy never felt short of love in the cozy flat above the bakery where she and Gramps would eat apple pie and watch Dad's Army. Even Marian-who on her flying visits would strictly admonish Issy not to trust men, to stay off the cider, and always follow her rainbow-was a loving parent. Nevertheless, sometimes, when she saw happy families larking in the park or parents cradling their newborns, Issy felt a desire at the pit of her stomach so strong, it felt like a physical gnawing for the traditional, the safe.

It was no surprise to anyone who knew the family that Issy Randall grew up to be the straightest, most conventional girl imaginable. Good A-levels, good college, and now a good job with a thrusting commercial property company in the City. By the time she was ready to start work, Gramps's bakeries were all sold: victims of his getting older and the changing times. And she had an education, he had pointed out (sadly, she sometimes thought); she didn't want to be getting up at sparrow's fart and doing hard manual labor for the rest of her life. She was set for better things.

But deep down she had a passion for kitchen comforts-for cream horns, balanced with the perfect weight of caterer's cream and light, flaky pastry, set off by the crunchiest diamond crystals of clear sugar; for hot cross buns, baked at Randall's strictly during Lent and Lent only, their cinnamon and raisins and orange peel spreading an exciting, sticky smell to half the road; for a perfectly piped butter icing on top of the highest, lightest, floatiest lemon cupcake. Issy loved all of those things. Hence her project with Gramps: to get as many of his recipes down on paper as possible, before-although neither of them ever referred to it-but before, or in case, he started to forget them.

- - -

"I got an email from Mum," said Issy. "She's in Florida. She's met a man called Brick. Really. Brick. That's his name."

"At least it's a man this time," sniffed her grandfather.

Issy gave him a look. "Shhh. She said she might be home for my birthday. In the summer. Of course she said she'd be home for Christmas, but she wasn't."

Issy had spent Christmas in the home with Gramps. The staff did their best, but it wasn't all that great.

"Anyway." Issy attempted a smile. "She sounds happy. Says she loves it over there. Said I should send you over for some sun."

Issy and Gramps looked at each other and burst out laughing. Joe got tired out crossing the room.

"Yes," said Gramps, "I'll just go catch the next plane to Florida. Taxi! Take me to London Airport!"

Issy tucked the sheet of paper away in her handbag and stood up.

"I have to go," she said. "Um, keep doing the recipes. But you can keep them quite, you know, normal if you like."

"Normal."

She kissed him on the forehead.

"See you next week."

- - -

Issy got off the bus. It was freezing, with dirty ice on the ground left over from a short day's snowfall just after New Year. At first it had looked pretty, but now it was getting a little ropy around the edges, especially poking through the wrought-iron fencing of the Stoke Newington Municipal Offices, the rather grand edifice at the end of her street. Still, as ever, Issy felt pleased to be stepping down. Home, Stoke Newington, the bohemian district she'd stumbled upon when she moved south.

The smell of hookahs from the little Turkish cafés on Stamford Road mingled with the incense sticks from the Everything for a Pound shops, jostling next to expensive baby boutiques that sold children's designer Wellingtons and one-off wooden toys, perused by shoppers with Hasidic ringlets, or headscarves; crop tops and patois; young mothers with buggies; older mothers with double buggies. Despite her friend Tobes once joking that it was like living in the bar in Star Wars, Issy loved it all. She adored the sweet Jamaican bread; the honey baklava sitting out by the cash registers in the grocers; little Indian sweets of dried milk and sugar, or dusty slabs of Turkish delight. She liked the strange cooking smells in the air as she came home from work, and the jumble of buildings; from a handsome square of pretty flat-fronted houses to blocks of flats and red-brick conversions. Albion Road was lined with odd shops, fried chicken joints, cab firms and large gray houses. It was neither commercial nor residential but lay somewhere in between, one of the great winding thoroughfares of London that once upon a time had led to its outlying villages, and now connected its suburbs.

The gray houses were stately, Victorian and potentially expensive. Some of them remained grotty subdivided flats with bicycles and damp wheelie bins cluttering up the front gardens. These boasted several doorbells with names crudely taped to them, and recycling boxes piled high on the curb. Some of them, though, had been reconverted into houses and gentrified, with reclaimed oak front doors, topiary trees on the steps and expensive curtains leading to polished hardwood flooring and stripped-back fireplaces and big mirrors. She loved the area's mix of shabby and new, traditional, rough and ready and smart and alternative, with the towers of the City on the horizon, and the tumbledown churchyard and crowded pavements...All types of people lived in Stokey; it felt like a microcosm of London; a village that reflected the city's true heart. And it was more affordable than Islington.

Issy had lived here for four years, since she moved out of south London and onto the property ladder. The only downside had been moving out of range of the tube. She'd told herself that didn't matter, but sometimes, on an evening like this with the wind cutting between the houses and turning noses into red dripping taps, she thought perhaps it did. Just a bit. It was all right for the posh yummy mummies in the big gray houses; they all had 4×4s. She did wonder sometimes, when she saw them out with their huge, expensive buggies and tiny, expensive bodies...she did wonder how old they were. Younger than her? Thirty-one wasn't old, not these days. But with their toddlers and their highlights and their houses with one wall covered in smart wallpaper...she did wonder. Sometimes.

Just behind the bus stop was a little close. It was lined with tiny shops, older places that had been left behind by the Victorian development. Once upon a time, they would have been stables or produce stores; they were quirky and oddly shaped. There was an ironmonger's with ancient brushes around the door, old-fashioned toasters for sale at inflated prices, and a sad-looking washing machine that had been sitting in the front window for as long as Issy had been coming to the bus stop; a telephone/Wi-Fi/Internet office that stayed open at strange hours and invited you to send money to places; and a newsagent that faced onto the road and was where Issy picked up magazines and Reese's peanut butter cups.

Right at the very end of the row, tucked into the corner, was a building that looked like an afterthought, somewhere to use up the spare stones. It was pointed at one end, where a triangular corner of glass stuck out toward the road, widening into a bench, with a door coming out onto a small cobbled courtyard with a tree in it. It looked quite out of place, a tiny haven in the middle of a village square, something absolutely out of time-like, Issy had once reflected, an illustration by Beatrix Potter. All it needed were bottle- glass windows.

Wind blew up the main road once more, and Issy turned off toward the flat. Home.

- - -

Issy had bought her flat at the very height of the property boom. For someone who worked in the property business, it hadn't been very astute. She suspected prices had started to decline about thirty minutes after she'd picked up her keys. This was before she began dating her boyfriend, Graeme, whom she'd met at work (although she had already noticed him around, as had all the other girls in the office); otherwise, as he had said several times, he would certainly have advised her against it.

Even then, she wasn't sure she'd have listened to him. After hunting through every property in her price range and hating all of them, she'd been on the point of giving up when she got to Carmelite Avenue, and she'd loved it straightaway. It was the top two stories of one of the pretty gray houses, with its own side entrance up a flight of stairs, so really it felt more like a little house than an apartment. One floor was almost entirely an open-plan kitchen/dining room/sitting room. Issy had made it as cozy as possible, with huge faded gray velvet sofas, a long wooden table with benches, and her beloved kitchen. The units were going cheap in the sales, almost certainly because they were a very strong shade of pink. "Nobody wants a pink kitchen," the salesman had said, slightly sadly. "They just want stainless steel. Or country cottage. There's nothing in between."

"I've never seen a pink washing machine before," Issy had said encouragingly. She hated a sad salesman.

"I know. Apparently it makes some people feel a bit queasy, watching their washing go around in one of those."

"That would be a drawback."

"Jordan nearly bought one," he said, momentarily perking up. "Then she decided it was too pink."

"Jordan decided it was too pink?" said Issy, who had never thought of herself as a particularly pink and girly type of person. This, however, was such an endearingly full-on Schiaparelli pink. It was a kitchen that just wanted to be loved.

"And it's really seventy percent off?" she asked again. "Fitted and everything?"

The salesman looked at the pretty girl with the green eyes and the cloud of dark hair. He liked rounded girls. They looked like they would actually cook in his kitchens. He didn't like those sharp ladies who wanted sharp-edged kitchens to keep their gin and face cream in. He thought kitchens should be used to make delicious food and pour lovely wine. He sometimes hated his job, but his wife loved their annually updated discount kitchens and cooked him wonderful meals in them, so he soldiered on. They were both getting terribly fat.

"Yup, seventy percent off. They'll probably just throw it out," he said. "On the scrapheap. Can you imagine?"

Issy could imagine. That would be very sad.

"I would hate for that to happen," she said solemnly.

The salesman nodded, mentally locating his order pad for a sale.

"Seventy-five percent off?" she said. "After all, I'm practically donating to charity. Save the Kitchen."

And that was how the pink kitchen had arrived. She had added black-and-white-checkered lino and implements, and after guests had first screwed up their eyes and rubbed them to get the spots away, then tentatively opened them again, some were surprised to find that they actually quite liked the pink kitchen, and they certainly liked what came out of it.

Even Grampa Joe had liked it, on one of his carefully choreographed visits, and had nodded approvingly at the gas hob (for caramelizing) and the electric oven (for even heat distribution). And these days, Issy and the sugar-sweet pink kitchen seemed made for one another.

In it she felt properly at home. She would turn the radio up and bustle around, gathering her vanilla sugar, her finest French pâtissiers flour that she bought from the tiny alimentaire in Smithfield and her narrow silver sieve, and selecting which of her trusty wooden spoons she would use to whip her lighter-than-air sponge into shape. She cracked eggs perfectly two at a time into her large blue-and-white-striped ceramic mixing bowl without even glancing, and used her eye to measure out the exact amount of creamy, snowy Guernsey butter that never went in the fridge. She got through a lot of butter.

Issy bit her lip sharply to stop herself beating the cake mix too hard. If it got too much air in it the mix would collapse in the oven, so she slowed her arm right down and tested to see if it would peak. It would. She had squeezed in fresh Seville orange juice and was planning to attempt a marmalade icing, which would either be delicious or quite peculiar.

The cupcakes were in the oven and she was on her third batch of icing when her flatmate, Helena, pushed open the door. The trick was to balance out the flavor so it wasn't too tart or too sweet, just perfect...She noted down the exact combination of ingredients that would give just a delicate edge in the mouth.

Helena never arrived subtly anywhere. She simply wasn't capable. She entered every room bosoms first-she couldn't help it. She wasn't fat, just tall, and extremely generously proportioned in true fifties style, with large creamy breasts, a tiny waist, and a wide bottom and thighs, crowned by a towering mass of Pre-Raphaelite hair. She would have been considered a beauty in any period of history other than the early twenty-first century, when the only acceptable shape for a beautiful woman was that of a hungry six-year-old who had inexplicably grown solid apple-shaped tits out of her shoulder blades. As it was, she was constantly trying to lose weight, as if her broad, alabaster shoulders and luscious curved thighs were ever going anywhere.

"I have had a terrible day," she announced dramatically. She glanced up at the cooling racks.

"I'm on it," said Issy hurriedly, putting down her icing sugar nozzle.

The oven dinged. Issy had dreamed of an Aga-a big pink Aga-even though it couldn't get up the stairs, or in any of the windows...and even if it did there wasn't room to plumb one in...and even if there had been, the floor wouldn't have been able to take the weight...and even if it had, she couldn't have stored the oil...and even if she had, Agas were no use for making cakes; they were too unpredictable. Plus she couldn't afford one. Nonetheless, she still kept the catalog hidden away in her bookcase. Instead she had a highly efficient German Bosch, which always was at the temperature it said it was going to be and always timed everything perfectly to the second, but it didn't inspire devotion.

Helena looked at the two dozen perfect cakes emerging from the oven.

"Who are you cooking for, the Red Army? Give me one."

"They're too hot."

"Give me one!"

Issy rolled her eyes and started squeezing on the icing with an expert flick of the wrist. Really, of course, she should wait till the cakes had cooled enough not to melt the buttercream, but she could tell Helena wasn't capable of waiting that long.

"So what happened?" she asked when Helena was comfortably ensconced on the chaise longue (she'd brought her own chaise longue when she moved in; it suited her. Helena never liked to expend more energy than was absolutely necessary) with a vast vat of tea and two cupcakes on her favorite polka-dot plate. Issy was pleased with the cakes; they were as light and fluffy as air, with a delicate sense of oranges and cream, delicious, and they wouldn't spoil your dinner. She realized she'd forgotten to get in anything for dinner. Well, they were dinner then.

"I got punched," sniffed Helena.

Issy sat up. "Again?"

"He thought I was a fire engine. Apparently."

"What would a fire engine be doing inside an Accident and Emergency department?" wondered Issy.

"That's a good question," said Helena. "Well, we get all sorts."

Helena had known she wanted to be a nurse when she was eight years old, which was when she'd taken all the pillowcases in the house and arranged all her stuffed animals in hospital beds. At ten, she'd insisted that her family start calling her Florence (her three younger brothers, all of whom were terrified of her, still did). At sixteen, she left school and went straight into training the old-fashioned way-on the wards under a matron-and despite much government meddling in the system, now she was a Grade B ward manager ("Call me Matron," she'd said to the crusty old consultants, who happily complied) and practically ran the busy A&E department at Hemel Park, still treating her trainees as if it were 1955. She had almost been in the newspapers when one had informed on her for carrying out a fingernail inspection. Most of her girls, however, adored her, as did the many junior doctors she had prodded and guided through their first anxious months, as did her patients. When they weren't off their heads and throwing punches, naturally.

Even though she made more money, got to sit down all day, and didn't have to work ridiculous shifts, Issy, in her safe corporate job, sometimes envied Helena. How lovely to work at something you loved and knew you were great at, even if it was for a pittance and you occasionally got punched.

"How's Mr. Randall?" asked Helena. She adored Issy's granddad, who admired Helena as a damn fine woman, accused her of continuing to grow taller, and opined that she wouldn't be out of place on the front of a ship. She had also cast her formidable professional eye over every care home in the district, an act for which Issy felt she would be forever in her debt.

"He's good!" said Issy. "Except when he's good he wants to get up and go baking, so he gets cross and starts cheeking that fat nurse again."

Helena nodded.

"Have you taken Graeme in to see him yet?"

Issy bit her lip. Helena knew full well she hadn't.

"Not yet," she said. "I will, though; he's just been so busy with stuff."

The thing was, Issy thought, that Helena tended to attract men who worshipped the ground she walked on. Unfortunately, she found this incredibly annoying and spent most of her time crushing on hot alpha males who were only interested in women with the BMI of a small shaky dog. Nonetheless, anyone looking for a normal-or normalish-relationship couldn't hope to compete with Helena's admirers, who wrote screeds of poetry and sent roomfuls of flowers.

"Mmm," said Helena, in the exact same tone she used to teenage skate punks who came in with broken collarbones. She popped another cake in her mouth. "You know, these are divine. You really could be a professional. Are you sure they don't contain one of my five a day?"

"Definite."

Helena sighed. "Oh well. We all need something to aspire to. Quick! Telly on! It's a Simon Cowell day. I want to see him be cruel to someone."

"You need a nice man," said Issy, picking up the remote control.

So do you, thought Helena, but she kept it to herself.

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Meet Me at the Cupcake Café: A Novel with Recipes 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Andreat78 More than 1 year ago
I spent a significant amount of my early 20s devouring books by Sophie Kinsella and Jane Green. I'm not sure why I veered away from the genre, but Meet Me at the Cupcake Café was an adorable and fun story that reminded me of why I love British Women's Fiction so much. Meet Me at the Cupcake Café centers around Issy Randal, a sweetheart of a woman who finds herself jobless and boyfriend-less, and she's lost. As the granddaughter of a baker, she grew up learning the art of baking, it's her art. In a moment of inspiration, Issy founds the Cupcake Café. Starting a business is no easy task, but with the help from her new friend Pearl, banker Austin, and her friends, the café is bound to be successful. But Issy learns that happiness with her job does not guarantee happiness in her personal life. At the end of the day, her friends have their own lives, and she is still lonely. All the while, Issy and Austin have become friends, of sorts, though Austin is hesitant to become involved with a client. And then there's the ex-boyfriend Graeme....Gorgeous, charismatic, and an utter self-involved jerk. But with Austin's hesitance and Graeme's sudden re-appearance in her life, Issy may just make the wrong choice. This was such a fun story, one that left me smiling and craving a cupcake. I love Women's Fiction, mainly because though there may be a romance of sorts, they're ultimately the heroine's personal journey. Meet Me at the Cupcake Café was also a story of friendship, and that's where it truly shined for me. I loved that Issy found such deep and strong friendships in the women around her. These were the women who helped keep her afloat when she was down. When the business struggled, and when she struggled with the men in her life, Issy always had her friends. A story about finding one's self and friendship, and a slew of delicious recipes, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café is a story that left me with a smile on my face, and a strong sweet tooth!
Anonymous 3 months ago
This was my first Jenny Colgan book and I definitely will try another one of hers. I enjoyed her writing, the story was pretty predicable to me but a cute beach read. Excited to try some of the recipes as well!
Becka 3 months ago
Thanks go to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read an electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is my first experience with Jenny Colgan’s writing and I can happily say it won’t be my last. I dearly love stories with main characters who step outside their comfort zones to pursue a dream, and that’s exactly what this sweet story serves up with main character Issy. I was thrilled to see that Issy and the supporting cast of characters return in a few sequels, which I look forward to reading. I believe I’ve found a new “go-to” author in Jenny Colgan!
aharey 4 months ago
Issy Randall needs a new life- she's been made redundant at her city job and wants to do something she loves. She decides to open her own cupcake bakery, using her grandfather's recipes. As she gets her shop up and running, she gathers characters around her that really make this story pop. This is a story that I could not put down. Definitely one of Jenny Colgan's best!
Anonymous 4 months ago
Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe is a delightful story. I always like reading Jenny Colgan, so it's not surprising that I liked it. I also love cupcakes, so that's a bonus! The story is warm hearted, light and will make you smile. It's a fast entertaining read that's well written. The characters are loveable and endearing, and you'll probably recognize them in people you know. Such a cute and charming pick me up story. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
Cat_Reader 4 months ago
Issy was raised by her lovely grandfather between cakes and cupcakes. With her big heart and sweetness, she always sees the positive side of everything but found herself groundless when her boss dismisses her and on top of that ends the hidden relationship he had with her, ending her dream to start a family. His grandfather is now older and lives under permanent care and, moreover, is forgetting something all the time. At this difficult and heartbroken moment, she discovers a willingness to set up her own cupcake cafe. Using the recipes she keeps along with her grandfather's notes, she goes to the struggle to make this dream a viable reality that makes her earn money to keep herself and the business and succeed. In this process, she surrounds herself with unique and special people who support her and bond with her and the cupcake cafe. Each of them also has their personal and professional struggles and this is what I was able to follow during reading. This is the second book I read of this writer and I confess that I loved it and didn’t love it . I loved watching Issy grow, fight, and mature. I loved the scene in the aquarium. I loved all the recipes that open many chapters and the comments of Issy's grandfather, which moved me very much to create a strong bond with him. I loved to see how she fought for her store, but I confess that her love affairs annoy so very much, first of all Graeme who is clearly selfish and treats her like trash and she does not even think twice about every time he calls her. I didn’t like either Austin ,his poorly developed story of admiration for Issy but did nothing to really demonstrate what he felt. It's okay that he redeems himself at end, but I wanted more connection. As I realized that the characters are very human in flaws and qualities, I believe that the writer wanted to show the controversial nature of the human being, but I also did not like Helena's behavior at a crucial point in the plot and I thought Pearl's ending could have a better closure. Another detail that struck me was the behavior of Austin's brother, Darny, who looked more like a six-year-old, seven-year-old, not a ten-year-old boy. Anyway, the reading was good and light, very tasty for the summer.
AMGiacomasso 4 months ago
I love Jenny Colgan's book because they talk about real women who face real problem and win. This book is no exception, just some pages and I was hooked. I liked the character development, the evolution of Issy from a sort of wallflower to a strong woman. I loved the mouthwatering recipes, the friendship and the tenderness. It's a heartwarming book and it made me smile and feel good. It was a good reading experience, engrossing and entertaining. Highly recommended! Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
LouiseFoerster 4 months ago
Issy is a baker, born and bred. When she loses her job, she imagines and brings into reality the cupcake shop of her dreams, launching herself and the others who join her into imagining and living a life that is larger, warmer, and more wide open to joy than they ever dreamed possible. Colgan creates a world that the reader does not want to leave, knowing what you hope for the determined Issy and her cohorts. In this light, fast read, the reader is gifted with an array of characters ranging from the very young to the very old, the posh yummy mummies and the not so posh barely hanging on. In sum, this story is characteristic Colgan, light and airy as the finest meringeue and yet reliably substantial and trustworthy, well-paced and well-wrought pleasure.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Thanks to Sourcebooks for re-issuing this delightful title by Jenny Colgan. It was the first of her books that I read and I have been reading her stories ever since. The author has a knack for developing relatable characters and warmhearted story lines. In this one Issy Randall takes a risk and starts her own business. The Cupcake Cafe is an appealing place in a lovely town. You will feel that you can taste Issy's food as you read the novel. This is also a love story and a story about friendship. For readers who want to read a book for sheer enjoyment this one is highly recommended. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to revisit Issy and co.
nicx27 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It's the story of Issy Randall, who is made redundant from her city job. She's a fantastic baker, just like her grandfather before her, who is her inspiration, and so she decides to open a cupcake cafe with her redundancy money.This is such a lovely book. It fits in with all those dreams we all have of opening our own little business, and I was rooting for Issy all along to succeed, to dump her useless, preening boyfriend and get on with making her life what she wanted it to be.A lot of the chapters had some really lovely sounding recipes at the beginning and I'm going to try some of them for myself. I thought this book was well-written with some frivolities, and some serious parts. I raced through it and enjoyed every minute I spent reading it. I understand there will be a sequel at Christmas and I can't wait to get my hands on it. Fantastic!
mrn945 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Light and frothy, perfect for the summer or a head-cold (which is what I've been suffering from). Who else gets a head-cold in the middle of summer??In any case, this was a fun novel, and it included a slew of really great sounding recipes! The novel is set in London, where a thirty-year-old women has realized what we all realize at one point. We're getting older and unhappy with our safe course. Issy has a boyfriend she likes, but who doesn't like her. She has an ok job, but it doesn't make her happy. Her mother is distant, her grandfather is sick, and her friends are all settling down. When she gets laid off in a crap economy with no job prospects, she takes a crazy chance and follows her passion - making cupcakes!Opening a cupcake cafe may seem a little nuts, and maybe it is, but she's so sweet and passionate for baking that you cannot help but be swept up and want her to win. Naturally, there are a few bumps along the road. Should she go back to the jerk boyfriend or give a new guy a chance? How will she run this cafe without her grandpa's guidance? Can she settle into the community?Issy is a sweet character. She's so innocent, even though, at times, you wish she should could see the true character of her jerk boyfriend. On the other hand, I think most young women have had a relationship like this at some point, so it's not that terrible a flaw. The supporting cast adds a great comedic element, and I liked that none of the characters felt too...typical. They were quirky and adorable!
super_nicola on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jenny Colgan virgin so i picked this up expecting it to be a bit wishy washy. Wow was i wrong.This book not only shares the trials of family life, lovers, friendships. It also gives you amazing baking reciepes at the start of every chapter. I am now a Jenny Colgan fan. Please read this book if you are not on a diet because it makes your mouth water.
TheGoldenPen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To Issy Randall baking was in her genes; it was in her blood. Growing up in Grandpa Joe's Bakery helped. Issy would sit beside Grandpa Joe as he baked his bread and iced each bun with the utmost dedication. "Bread is the Staff of Life!" he'd often say to Issy. Fast forward twenty odd years or so when Issy is thirty-one; she now lives with her roommate Helena, a nurse in London. She often visits Grandpa Joe in the Nursing home and he promised to write down all his recipes for Issy. Issy loved to bake cupcakes; she would turn up at work with a Tupperware box full of cupcakes much to her colleagues delight. In a word, Issy Randall can create stunning, mouth-watering cupcakes that are lighter than air...she doesn't even measure her ingredients but waltzes around the kitchen, throwing ingredients into her bowl and whizzing it with her electric mixer. After being made redundant from her office job at Stoke Newington Municipal office and dismissed by her boss and lover, Graeme, Issy became depressed. Encouraged by her roommate Helena, Issy decided to open up her very own Cupcake Cafe. " How hard could it be?" she thought to herself. Opening her own Cupcake Cafe would show that no good lover of hers a thing or two about her determination and skills. She found a nice little shop on Pear Tree Court that was on sale which she made an investment on with her redundancy money from her admin job, and turned it into the business of her dreams. Nothing could be easier than opening your own cafe, right? What's there to do but bung some cake in the oven, feed a few customers and reap the profits? Wrong. Issy didn't count on the gazillion forms and applications she had to fill and then there were the builders to contend with the bank managers, the auditors and the cantankerous old snobbish ladies from the cooperative who confronted Issy about her baking junk and stealing their customers; but Issy Randall was determined and she met each obstacle head on! The Cupcake Cafe opened for business and thanks to Pearl, a recently unemployed single mother whom Issy met at the Resettlement courses meeting held on Oxford Street, London, Issy and Pearl turned the Cafe into a warm and cosy little place to sit, enjoy a sweet morsel , a good cup of coffee and chat away whilst watching the world go by. But Issy didn't know what was behind the corner threatening to shut up Shoppe. I fell in love with the book from the start and couldn't put it down. I, too, identified with Issy, being a home baker myself. I envisioned the role of Issy being portrayed by Anne Hathaway should it ever become a movie. The author throws in many delightful recipes throughout the book and delights her audience with tiny morsels of information of baking. The characters are very true to life and the reader can identify with them. I fell in love with Grandpa Joe and cried my eyes out when he passed away! Another character that is strange but endearing is the Ironmonger who strangely creeps behind the shadows under certain scenes. He is a dark but very real and human character which the author slowly reveals to the audience towards the end. Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe is the type of book a person can read many times in their lives and never get bored with it. It is a light and pleasant read. Like a decadent chocolate cupcake, this Novel will tantalize anyone's taste buds. The author does have the habit of overextending her fondness of the word 'had' throughout the book which I found annoying; other than this, I should say, this is a tastefully good read. I praise the author for a great piece of fiction.
jpcoggins More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book so much more than I expected!  Its a little "fluffy", like you might expect by the name and pink cover and just the idea of cupcakes which are half cake and half frosting.  But there is a plot and nuanced story here with many lovable characters and storylines.  I agree with other  reviewers that it is also fun to read a book by a foreign author, with the story taking place in London.  It makes you feel like you had a little adventure in another corner of the world.  Some of her humor made me  laugh out loud too!  On top of a light-hearted read, you get free recipes!  This book will make you cheer for the underdogs and feel good all over.  You might even want to make a mess in your kitchen and bake some cupcakes for yourself and to give away as gifts!  Enjoy, with your favorite hot beverage!