Available in Ebook and Hardback (23 January 2020) | Paperback (18 February 2021)
Source: Copy received for review from Netgalley
ABOUT THE BOOK
From the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Lido comes a story of friendship, belonging and never giving up on your dreams.
Welcome to the café that never sleeps.
Day and night, Stella’s Café opens its doors to the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It’s a place where everyone is always welcome, where life can wait at the door.
Meet Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They love working at Stella’s – the different people they meet, the small kindnesses exchanged. But is it time to step outside and make their own way in life?
Come inside and spend twenty-four hours at Stella’s Café, where one day might just be enough to change your life . . .
Hannah and Mona are best friends, living and working together; both part time waitresses in Stella’s Café, a 24 hour café opposite London’s Liverpool Street station. An area I know well as I commuted in and out of that station for over 15 years. Stella’s café is well described with its eclectic style of decoration and I got a real sense of place for both the cafe and the location. Both women have ambitions of a different life – Hannah wants to be a professional singer, whilst Mona dreams of a life on the stage as a dancer – they are just waiting for their big break but in the meantime, waitressing pays the bills.
Over a 24 hour period, with both of them doing a double shift, the story shifts firstly from Hannah’s perspective and then from Mona’s; we discover how they first met and what their friendship means to both of them and how it can be tested, their backgrounds, their dreams and aspirations, whilst all the time the café welcomes a myriad of customers; some are mentioned in passing, others in more detail – such as Dan the young homeless student, grieving after the loss of his mother, the elderly couple about to go on their honeymoon and the couple whose relationship is about to ripped apart by immigration laws. I really enjoyed these glimpses into other people’s lives and could happily have read more about each of them. There are those who don’t even come inside Stella’s, such as John, the Big Issue seller, who stands outside in all weathers treating everyone with respect, even when he is shoved out of the way and ignored or even shouted at by passing pedestrians.
This isn’t a short read but never did it feel too long or padded, the author pitched the pace just perfectly with characters that seem so authentic. Stella’s is not just somewhere to grab a coffee or a sandwich, for some it’s a refuge from the stresses of life, and both staff and customers see it as a welcoming space.
This is a story of love and betrayal, of friendship and disappointment, of never giving up on your dreams and the kindness of strangers, I very much enjoyed it and it has made me even more keen to read the author’s debut ‘The Lido’ – (I know, I must be the last person in the world who hasn’t read it!) Also it made me cry which I really wasn’t expecting.
My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to take part in the tour and to the publisher for the Netgalley copy to review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Libby Page wrote The Lido while working in marketing and moonlighting as a writer. The Lido has sold in over twenty territories around the world and film rights have been sold to Catalyst Global Media. Libby lives in London where she enjoys finding pockets of community within the city.
On the evening of 23 January, publication day, I spent a very happy hour or so at Waterstones Piccadilly listening to author Laura Jane Williams (@laurajaneauthor) chatting to Libby about all manner of subjects, including her writing, and both her published books, this one and her debut, The Lido.