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BOOK REVIEW: Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

| 29 April 2016 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

Random House
March 2016
Paperback, $32.99
Reviewed by Amy Briggs

Contemporary Fiction

7/10

9780857988317

Twimbly Island. There came a point in their relationship when she thought if she heard that name one more time she’d scream. You’d love it, Jack had told her over and over, going on and on about it’s golden sunrises, its miles of driftwood-strewn beaches, the snow geese, the eagles, the great blue herons, the orcas heading inland for the winter, so close you could almost touch them from shore, as he tried his damnedest to work his magic on her.

Sunny had never felt as lost as she did now, bobbing up and down in this dismal sea, as grey as the sky above… But for now here she was, on a boat. Headed toward Jack’s dream. Without Jack. She took a deep breath and jammed her nearly numb hands deep into her pockets of her down jacket, where the latest letter from Halajan remained crumpled inside ‘Don’t grieve,’ the old woman had quoted from Rumi. ‘Anything you lose comes round in another form.’ Well, Sunny thought, I’m good with that. As long as it doesn’t come around as a shitload of fog.

 

Returning with the familiar cast of lovable characters from Kabul and introducing some new faces from Twimbly Island, Rodriquez weaves another vibrant tale, with the colour and depth of one of Sunny’s Afghanistan tapestries.

This time, Sunny is in America. With her boyfriend Jack, she pursues his dream of building a winery on Twimbly Island; a place that he describes to her as tranquil and picturesque. However, a tragic accident leaves Sunny to reluctantly journey to the island alone, which turns out to be not so picturesque as Jack had described. Frustrated, feeling lost, and grieving her beloved Jack, Sunny stays at Jack’s run-down property on the island, dreaming of returning to Kabul, but deep down knows that her time in Kabul is over and she has to move on to other ventures.

 

For this reader, this novel was greatly anticipated. I had read ‘The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul’ years ago and loved it, so when I saw that Rodriguez had written a sequel and was able to get my hands on a copy, I nestled down with a nice cup of tea for a session of reading. It was great re-visiting Kabul and the coffee shop and seeing what all the old characters were up to. The theme of women’s rights in Kabul was interesting but not so consuming as to take away from the main plot or to darken the mood of the novel. The writing is beautiful and vibrant, as we’ve come to expect from Rodriquez. This is a pleasant read. The writing is great and the characters are very likeable, making for a relaxing holiday read and a nice little piece of literature.

However, there were just a few niggles within this story. The novel was mostly split between the events in Kabul and the events on Twimbly Island, jumping back and forth from catching up with to the old characters and getting to know the new ones. Unfortunately, with this style, and with so many characters to keep track of, each character’s story ended up feeling a little too hollow, and characters who didn’t come together quite as well as in the first novel. Sunny constant yearning to return to Kabul was also rather bothersome. It is understood that after what happened to Jack, and with the grief she was suffering, that she would immediately want to head back to where she felt at home, surrounded by people she loves, however, it does grow a little repetitive.

I would like to jump on board for more of Sunny and her adventures, but perhaps Rodriguez needs to set Kabul aside for a little while, and focus on developing the deep and interesting characters she is so talented at writing.

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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