The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page #BookReview #BlogTour

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 . . .

It’s my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for The 24-Hour Cafe today. Many thanks to Libby Page, Orion Books and Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel received through Netgalley.

I think most of us must people-watch at some time or another, especially in cafes. In The 24-Hour Cafe, Libby Page gives us a brief glimpse into the lives of some of the customers of Stella’s Cafe, with stories which range from the sad and poignant to the uplifting and hopeful. These little vignettes are linked by the presence of two of the waitresses, Hannah and Mona; their stories are covered in greater depth as their twelve-hour shifts means readers are able to see various events from both their perspectives.
The first part of the novel is mostly told from Hannah’s viewpoint, from when she begins her shift at midnight taking over from her best friend, Mona. Both women came to London dreaming of success but so far it has eluded them. Nevertheless Hannah still describes herself as a singer/waitress and likewise, Mona as a dancer/waitress. At first Hannah appears to be as vibrant as her red hair but as the book progresses and night becomes day, it soon becomes apparent that like many of the customers she serves, she has her own troubles to bear. As she serves coffee and plates of pancakes, she watches the people who visit Stella’s and as she wonders about their stories, she reminisces about her past - including leaving home to move to London, her various flat-shares, the end of her first real relationship, and her introduction to Mona.
Hannah’s story is interspersed with short scenes that are written from the perspective of some of the customers; the grieving student who has nowhere else to go, the new mother who has left the warmth of her bed, the two young men whose love is threatened by immigration laws, the middle-aged man living a lie. Although it gradually transpires that Hannah hasn’t always made the wisest choices, she does generally come across as an empathetic, thoughtful person who often engages in simple little acts of kindness and I liked her very much.
After Hannah’s twelve-hour shift comes to an end, Mona arrives back at Stella’s, with the second part of the book written from her point of view. As before, customers come and go, taking their stories with them and her thoughts form the majority of the narrative. She has made a big decision, the impact of which means she also looks back on some of the events that Hannah recalled. Far from feeling repetitive, I really enjoyed this opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of their shared history. Mona initially seems to be a more reserved character than Hannah but I really liked her too and grew to understand why she made her choices. She serves some of the same people who visited the cafe during Hannah’s shift and often their return allows us to understand a little more about them.
The 24–Hour Cafe is a wonderfully warm book which perfectly epitomises the saying, “Be kind, for everyone is facing a battle you know nothing about.” One of the characters, Dan takes comfort in the knowledge that other people face the same struggles that he does and Libby Page’s thoughtful, perceptive novel is a touching affirmation of the way in which we are all connected by our shared experiences. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The 24-Hour Cafe is published by Orion Books, purchasing links can be found here.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

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.
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