Monday, 29 June 2020

Emma's Review: The Waffle House on the Pier by Tilly Tennant

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

For as long as she can remember, Sadie’s grandparents have run the waffle house on the pier at Sea Salt Bay. With its pretty painted chairs, sweet smells, and the warm advice of her beloved grandparents, the waffle house is like a second home

But when Sadie’s grandfather dies, leaving her grandmother without an anchor, Sadie must make a difficult decision. She quits her job and moves back home, determined to keep things going. The trouble is, she knows nothing about running a business, and learning at a million miles an hour with a shop full of hungry people isn’t easy. When she nearly burns the waffle house down, she has to admit she needs to get some help.

Her ex-boyfriend Declan promises to be there for her but Sadie worries that getting too close is a mistake – especially as he has a new girlfriend now. And anyway she’s just met newcomer Luke, with his gorgeous suntan and mellow voice…

Sadie’s family have always loved Declan and they’re not too sure about Luke, leaving Sadie unsure which way to turn. A terrible accident at sea forces her to look into her heart, but what if it’s already too late to tell the right man that she loves him?

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Many thanks to Bookouture via NetGalley for my copy of The Waffle House on the Pier to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

Tilly Tennant’s new book The Waffle House on the Pier has the most fabulous, summery cover that makes you want to dive straight in to discover the delights that hopefully await you inside. I mean who wouldn’t want to read a book set in a beautiful coastal village called Salt Bay that has a waffle house of all things at its heart? I expected this book to be in a similar vein to books in this genre that have food in their title and for it to be the lightest of reads just perfect to take your mind off things. It was all these things but surprisingly there was far more depth and emotion waiting to be uncovered than I had anticipated.

A problem surrounding a family member and how their relatives cope with it forms the basis for this lovely, heart-warming story and it soon became a book that I was enjoying reading as you easily identify with the main character Sadie and how she has to make some important, life changing decisions but at the same time she has to take into account how to deal with changes that no one wishes to see occur in their family. Sadie bucked the family trend when it came to her career and she is currently training to be a teacher, although she can’t say her work experience in the classroom is going all that well. Tourism is the backbone to Sea Salt Bay and her parents run boat tours of the bay, and her brother Ewan and his wife Kat run diving tours. Her older sister Lucy is away living in America and has no plans to return to the coastal village. But tourism and being out on the bay every day is not what Sadie wants from her life.

Sadie is now regretting her life choice and is beginning to realise she has made the wrong decision, how can she tell her parents that she has failed? It takes a lot of courage to admit to yourself, let alone family members whom you convinced that you were doing the right thing, that after all perhaps your decision was incorrect. It’s easy for people to continue with what they are doing even though it makes them unhappy and uncomfortable so I admired Sadie for reaching a decision that meant she would leave teaching behind and she would step outside of the box and her comfort zone. But I think with the unexpected death of her grandfather Kenneth this was the push that Sadie needed to forget about teaching. She realised life was short but she also saw that her grandmother April would need someone to help her run the waffle house. If she had loved what she was doing I would have said she was selfless in pushing teaching to one side but instead although a tragedy had befallen the family this happened at a convenient time for Sadie.

It’s hard to admit to yourself that you have failed at something. No one likes to experience that feeling as we all strive to reach our goals in life but now Sadie has reached a crossroads, the family want to sell the waffle house. They wonder is it doing well financially and also there is no way that April can manage it on her own. Since the death of her husband she is a shadow of her former self and the feisty, outspoken, smart and quick witted woman they once knew is disappearing. There were many hints dropped about April’s state of mind and I think at times Sadie and her family chose to ignore them because they didn’t want to face a further reality of what might be coming down the line.

Sadie fights her corner and the waffle house is given a reprieve. She will work there and help April for as long as she can even though she really doesn’t know the first thing about running a business. But the waffle house has been a staple of the community and part of the landscape for many years and Sadie doesn’t want to see it gone forever. Sadie hopes by helping April that she will bring her back to life and at the same time she will have a chance to assess what her own next life move should be. I totally understood Sadie’s confusion about what to do next but by helping April out, was she just putting off the big decision that needed to be made?

I understood she was genuine in her offer of helping as she had such an emotional connection to the waffle house but she really needed a strong purpose to her life and one of certainty instead of just aimlessly floating around. She feels that she can’t keep continuously starting over again in life and making a mess of things. Combined with the fact that she aches to have someone in her life that will offer her romance, comfort, support and friendship Sadie is not in the best of places and even more so when her old flame Declan is still in the town. Is he her unrequited love? The one that got away?

An unfortunate incident whilst out diving with Kat leads to the introduction of a newcomer to the village, Luke Goldman. I loved the character of Luke, he was a calming influence and written in just such a nice and pleasant way. I loved the fact there wasn’t some great big mystery surrounding him that what you saw was what you got. He didn’t play hard to get and he made appearances at just the right time at various stages in the story rather than being a continuously presence and Sadie only focused on him. I thought even though Sadie’s family weren’t too keen on him especially after how they first met that really she shouldn’t be influenced by others rather she should follow her heart. But was her heart telling her Declan will always be the one for her, even though he is with someone else, or should Luke be the one who is in her future?

Sadie was torn in many ways - romantically, professionally and with her family life and I really enjoyed reading how she was going to go about dealing with everything that life seemed to be throwing at her all at once. None of the storylines seemed contrived or forced. I really felt that they were realistic as many of the things I was reading about really could have happened in real life. There’s lots that happens as Sadie navigates her way through rough and uncertain times but at the heart of it all she really is trying to do her best for April. Yet there were certain points where I thought Sadie just came across as being too whingy and constantly being in a state of feeling sorry for herself. Yes she was proactive in some ways but in others she was on a constant downer and I wanted her to buck up a little bit. As for how the various other family members dealt with what was going on with April well I think it could have been handled an awful lot better. They needed to step in sooner instead of hoping that things could turn out differently. In that way I believed they really could have helped Sadie more as she battled to keep the waffle house open.

One thing I did feel was missing were lots and lots of descriptions of the food being cooked in the waffle house. There were little bits here and there, and I get that the food wasn’t the centre of the storyline, but I just felt there needed to be more to get my taste buds going and mouth watering. I think readers will expect this given the title and it was lacking that little bit. But look that’s a really minor issue, and me being picky really, because aside from that this is a really good story. Sadie took the family’s problems on her shoulders and yes the family allowed her to do that but its how she navigates the stormy waters and at the same time does some real growing up that makes Sadie a character you will root for and this a story that you will thoroughly enjoy.

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