Title: Before The Coffee gets Cold
Author: Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Series: Before the Coffee Gets Cold #1
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from Picador books , via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What would you change if you could go back in time?
In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.
In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.
But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .
Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?
This is quite a difficult book to describe. While, it does contain time travel it is not a sci-fi book, instead the time travel allows the human stories to be explored. I would say this is perfect for those who like magical realism.
It is broken into four stories mentioned in the blurb, that take place over the course of a year within this magical cafe. Each story focusing on a different type of relationship: A young romance, a long standing marriage, The bond between sisters and the mother/daughter relationship. Each of them are beautifully bitter sweet and leave the reader slightly heart broken with a little edge of hope. The writing has a sort of softness to it, a slow paced quiet quality that really captures the sweet yet sad moments and the feelings of the characters in those moments.
It’s one of those books where the setting is as much a character than the characters of the book. It is very character driven establishing how they came to the cafe, what part the cafe plays in their life and why they make the decision to travel in time, despite all the rules. We never leave the cafe, instead just getting glimpses of the outside world from the inner monologue of the cafe’s patrons, and this again lends to its escapist, tranquil feeling to the narrative.
Overall, it is a very sweet and lyrical book that is just really nice to spend some time with. It is heart breaking in the best way but also filled with hope. I really enjoyed it and I am looking forward to picking up the next book and revisiting the cafe.