The Kookaburra Creek Cafe…
About the Book:
Welcome to the Kookaburra Creek Cafe.
For Hattie, the cafe has been her refuge for the last fifty years – her second chance at a happy ending after her dreams of being a star were shattered. But will the ghosts of her past succeed in destroying everything she’s worked so hard to build?
For Alice, the cafe is her livelihood. After Hattie took her in as a teenager, Alice has slowly forged a quiet life as the cafe’s manager (and chief cupcake baker). But with so many tragedies behind her, is it too late for Alice’s story to have a happy ending?
For Becca, a teenager in trouble, the cafe could be the new start she yearns for. That is, if she can be persuaded to stop running from her secrets. Can Becca find a way to believe in the kindness of strangers, and accept that this small town could be the place where she finally belongs?
One small town. Three lost women. And a lifetime of secrets.
My review for The Kookaburra Creek Cafe could have quite easily gone like this:
The Kookaburra Creek Cafe in two words: Utterly perfect.
What I liked about this novel: Everything
What I didn’t like about this novel: That it ended
Rating: 5 stars
But I’m not known for being brief, particularly when it comes to talking about the things that I like. The Kookaburra Creek Cafe was utterly perfect and there was not a single thing about it that I didn’t like and I could have happily remained within its pages for so much longer. But there has to be more to it than that. This novel has honestly caught me by surprise and was so much better than I had expected.
“Funny how ‘home’ could sneak up on you like that, a place where you never meant to stay, with people you never meant to love.”
This is one of those stories that sneaks up on you with its winding plot full of unexpected twists and breathtaking moments of heartache. I read the last 80 pages through a film of tears, and that’s pretty rare for me. I’ll often cry at particular scenes within a story, or sometimes at the end of an emotionally fraught book, but not usually continuously for such a big chunk of reading time. But this story had so much reach; it was just incredibly affecting and so life affirming.
The Kookaburra Creek Cafe is a story about the decisions we make when life throws out its worst. It’s such an authentic story and so very Australian in its setting and quirky incidentals. The camaraderie between the characters and the strong community spirit evident throughout the novel created a warm atmosphere that invited the reader in, hence my feeling of not wanting the story to end. There was such a strong sense of place, a feeling of belonging that was almost tangible.
Alice’s story was so sad, for so many reasons. She was a true warrior, the way she kept picking herself up and moving forward, and from such a young age too. Louise was probably one of the worst best friends I’ve come across in a story. I was so disappointed in her, and surprised, that her history with Alice meant so little to her once high school was finished. She knew what Alice’s life was like, yet she wiped her and then set out to steal the life Alice could have had. Alice might not have hated her at the end but I kind of did.
From such abandonment, on multiple fronts, Alice really did rise out of her adversity. Which made her later losses so much more profound. Yet, I don’t believe Sandie Docker has put too much tragedy onto the shoulders of her main character. She deals her a rough hand, more than once, but this is what life is like. Tragedy and heartache isn’t an evenly allocated deal. Some of us sometimes get more than others, more even than what we perceive we can actually handle. But through Alice, Sandie examines how malleable we are as humans, and the different ways we can be pulled taut, yet remain unsnapped. She shows the possibility of loving again, even though sometimes, it just takes a really long time to be brave enough to risk it. I was sad that Alice’s life veered off its intended course at a such a young age, but I believe she ended up in the right place with the right people.
I enjoyed the arrangement of this novel, the neat intertwining of back story throughout. It was set up in a way to reveal key moments in a timely fashion. Nothing was drawn out too long just as nothing was rushed to its climax. Everything fell neatly into place exactly as it was meant to. I loved how nothing was truly as I expected, it was so refreshing to have that element of predictability removed from a story. Sandie never deliberately mislead her readers, yet she artfully led us around the garden path a few times, showing great skill as a writer in the process. I’ve focused more on Alice within this review because for me, it was her story that had the most impact. Becca and Hattie each had their own backstories that were highly engaging, but Alice was the glue binding the trio together. I did love the second chance that Becca’s arrival provided for Alice, just as years before that, Alice’s arrival had provided Hattie with her second chance. There was a beautiful symmetry to this aspect of the story.
I’m looking forward to talking about this novel with my book club (it was our selection this month for the face to face one, not the online one). There’s a lot to take away from this novel, much to ponder on and to talk about. The inclusion of the cupcake recipes in the back of the book was a surprisingly nice touch. Although, they are rather gourmet, so it remains to be seen if I take a chance on recreating any of them. The cover also deserves a special mention, it’s just so quaint and gorgeous and in this case, you can safely judge a book by its cover – The Kookaburra Creek Cafe will not disappoint.
Thanks is extended to Penguin Random House Australia for providing me with a copy of The Kookaburra Creek Cafe for review.
About the Author:
Sandie Docker grew up in Coffs Harbour, and first fell in love with reading when her father introduced her to fantasy books as a teenager. Her love of fiction began when she first read Jane Austen for the HSC, but it wasn’t until she was taking a translation course at university that her Mandarin lecturer suggested she might have a knack for writing – a seed of an idea that sat quietly in the back of her mind while she lived overseas and travelled the world. Sandie first decided to put pen to paper (yes, she writes everything the old fashioned way before hitting a keyboard) when living in London. Now back in Sydney with her husband and daughter, she writes every day. The Kookaburra Creek Café is her first book.
Trade Paperback: ISBN 9780143789192 – Michael Joseph
EBook: ISBN 9780143789208 – Penguin eBooks