The 24 Hour Cafe is, as the title suggests, a book set in a cafe which is open 24 hours a day. Over the course of one 24 hour period we get to know the staff and some of the customers who visit this London eatery. The main narrators are waitresses Hannah and Mona. They also share a flat and although working in the cafe, Hannah is an aspiring singer while Mona dreams of a dance career. We learn about both women not just during the course of that day but also looking at what brought them to London, how they ended up sharing a flat and the highs and lows of their quests to fulfil their dreams. We also meet several of the customers of the cafe, some regulars, some just passing through.
Reading the book is a bit like people watching. We get glimpses into lives, sometimes getting quite a lot of the story but sometimes just brief interludes leaving the reader to decide where the story or character goes. These are characters you will really take to heart. I felt I wanted to know what happens next for so many of them such as lovers Joe and Haziq, student Dan, new mother Monique, Big Issue salesman John. So I was pleased when the epilogue revisited the cafe a year later and rounded off some of their stories.
My heart broke for some of the characters but swelled for joy for others – sometimes I felt both emotions for the same people at different points of the book. The friendship between the two women, Mona and Hannah, was so beautifully portrayed. Their dreams and aspirations were clear and, although it’s fair to say they had their ups and downs, their unfailing support for each other was touching.
The 24 Hour Cafe may seem to be just a gentle, observational story, with perhaps not much happening, but Libby Page’s writing draws you in as though you are sitting in that cafe yourself and watching the customers. It is beautifully written, tender look at friendship and love and life and really, it’s just a lovely, lovely book
My thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publishers Orion for my review copy via Netgalley. The 24 Hour Cafe is available now in hardback and as an ebook. You will find various buying options on the Orion website here: The 24 Hour Cafe
From the back of the book
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 . . .
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. Follow Libby on twitter @libbypagewrites