Sunday, 14 May 2017

Emma's Review: The New Beginnings Coffee Club by Samantha Tonge

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Everyone deserves a second chance…don’t they?

Jenny Masters finds herself living the modern dream. Wife to a millionaire, living in a mansion and mother to Kardashian-obsessed ten-year-old April, there isn’t anything missing. Until, her whole world comes crashing down, forcing Jenny and April to leave behind their glittering life and start over with nothing.

With village gossip following her wherever she goes, she finds refuge and a job in the new coffee shop in town. As the days pass Jenny fears she doesn’t have what it takes to pick herself back up and give April the life she always wanted to. But with the help of enigmatic new boss Noah, and housemate Elle, Jenny realises it’s never too late to become the woman life really intended you to be!

Amazon link: Kindle

Before I began reading this new book from Samantha Tonge I had seen someone mention how with this story the author's writing had really been upped a level and everything was going in a more serious direction. I was intrigued to see would I agree with this statement as having read several of her books I know what to usually expect - light, fun, easy reads with some humour and romance thrown in. Now having finished reading The New Beginnings Coffee Club (don't worry this is not another one of those club/shop/group books) I completely agree that Samantha's writing has certainly shifted to a new level and the overall storyline was really relevant to our times today. I liked the serious undertones coming through with good, strong messages for the reader to take from the story. Yes it is a departure for the author but in a really good way. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed her earlier stories and not to detract from them in any way but sometimes you need that change of direction to keep the writing fresh and the readers wanting to come back to your books time and time again. With this story Samantha will earn lots of new readers and pleasantly surprise those who have followed her work since her début  Doubting Abbey was published in 2013.

The New Beginnings Coffee Club is a story of a journey, a transformation, of battling through the rough and unexpected times and with the help, support and care of others our main character may begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I really enjoyed accompanying our main character Jenny Jarvis as she embarks upon a new start in life. Although she may have thought her warm, cushy world was forever it's when we least expect things to change that they do through unfortunate, unforgiving circumstances and perhaps at the time the most soul destroying of ways.

We meet Jenny in a brief prologue as she reminisces about her childhood. She thought back then if she ever has a child she wants to be a mum just like her own mother - baking, crafting and creating wonderful memories for her child to savour. Fast forward many years later and Jenny is 32 and happily married to a handsome high flyer Zachary Masters. The couple have a  daughter April aged ten who is on the cusp of that tween phase where celebrity and peer pressure play such an influential role on their later teenage years. The references throughout the story to the Kardashians and celeb culture were spot on. I loved how the author had a point to put across as to how celebrity is becoming like a modern religion and not in a good way so much so that the influence and remarks of April's friends play a huge part in the way she is feeling and the persona she puts across. Food, calories, makeup and hair trends seemed to be such an obsession for the young girls. This issue wasn't too in your face but well meshed with the overall storyline amongst all the other little plot lines. If it had been a very dominant theme I think it would have strayed too far with what we have known Samantha to write before. Yes the book ventured down new writing avenues for the author but not too much too soon.

Jenny enjoys a very nice life with Zach - his business Elite Eleganz has afforded the family a life of privilege and luxury. April attends a fee paying school where competition to be the best is rife amongst the girls. Jenny can buy anything she wants and thinks she is in the 'in club ' with fellow mum Chanelle who owns a nail salon. Things really couldn't be better for Jenny. The author did a brilliant job of painting such a picture of a wonderful life for a loving and  happy family that when it all comes crashing down your heart instantly goes out to Jenny. Even in the beginning I never felt Jenny herself had come across as truly spoilt but I could see when everything disappears she has a battle on her hands to re- accustom herself to a 'normal life'. Jenny thinks a lovely romantic meal is in store for her when she goes out with Zach but he turns up late, a fight ensues and the truth finally emerges and it's not what Jenny ever thought she would hear. This was such a brutal uncessary putdown from Zach.'Oh Jenny .... you're just a housewife. And it's not enough anymore'. My picture of Zach as this hunk who works hard and earns plenty of money disappeared and for the rest of the book I disliked him intensely. All Jenny's safe, secure world comes crashing down and she is out on her ear and someone she thought quite close to her is in her place.

Lack of money becomes a huge issue but maybe really this is the wake up call Jenny needed to create a better life for herself and April. The only trouble is having had so much how can she cope with so little? 'Bit by bit my perfect life was crumbling - jagged chunks of it smashing through my ignorance'. Jenny now can't fall apart as April really needs her. I could sense that's what she wanted to do but she desperately needed to find some inner strength to keep moving forward and put the past behind her and forge a new and happy future. Although I did think she was quite down on herself believing she had always been handed everything and now wasn't capable of achieving anything on her own.

Before starting the book I did think it could be about a group of women forming a coffee club where all their woes and ups and downs were discussed. Thankfully this couldn't have been further from the truth. The coffee club in question is a café run by Noah with the help of Elle. It's unique and special as Noah puts so much time and effort into sourcing so many various flavours of coffee beans in a bid to attract as many customers as possible into such a warm and inviting place. Noah was an instantly likeable character, I think he felt a certain affinity with Jenny and wanted to reach out and help her. His advice was so sound and useful. I did think though offering her a job and a place to stay with April was quite rushed but it could just be do with his kind nature. I sensed Noah had been through a lot and having been so wanted to help others in need. These simple brilliant words are just what Jenny needed to hear 'Just be true to yourself. Listen to your heart. The rest will follow. Everyone has problems. You aren't alone'. As Jenny battles to adjust to a whole new way of life she also has to contend with Zach still in her life after all he is Jenny's father but also April has her own little issues. April was such a sweet character and brought plenty of humour to the story but also spoke a lot of sense for someone so young. The wishes she requested were magical and such a nice touch to the story.

The story moved along at a nice pace once Jenny gets the job and we get to know Elle and Noah that little bit better too. I enjoyed seeing how Jenny slowly became more confident as she found her feet and became more independent. Yet it wasn't all plain sailing and therefore very much reflective of life especially after a break up. There were a few twists and turns throw in towards the end of the book and a few dramatic scenes. A surprising revelation I would never have seen coming in a million years but bravo Samantha Tonge for including this subject and handling it with such sensitivity.

The New Beginnings Coffee Club is well worth a read. I flew through it in two sittings and I found both its themes and characters really resonated with me. This is a warm, inviting book with characters you won't want to leave behind. I so thoroughly enjoyed Jenny's path to finding her inner voice and searching for a positive, hopeful future. Does Jenny get a happy ending or will there be a few spanners thrown in the works? Pick up this delightful book to discover the answers for yourself.

Many thanks to HQ Digital for my copy of The New Beginnings Coffee Club to review via NetGalley and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment