When Jo's beloved grandparents ask for her help in running their little café at the end of the pier in Salthaven-on-Sea she jumps at the chance.
The café is a hub for many people: the single dad who brings his little boy in on a Saturday morning; the lady who sits alone and stares out to sea; the woman who pops in after her morning run.
Jo soon realises that each of her customers is looking for love and she goes about setting each of them up on blind dates - each date is held in the café, with a special menu she has designed for the occasion. But Jo has never found love herself. She always held her grandparents' marriage up as her ideal and she hasn't found anything close to that. But could it be that love is right under her nose...?
A quick note:
A Year at the Café at the End of the Pier is the collected Café at the End of the Pier novellas. If you have already read and enjoyed the novellas then you have already read A Year at the Café at the End of the Pier.
Rather ashamedly I admit this was my first book from the always lovely Helen (@HJRolfe) but it definitely will not be my last.
When Molly and Arthur realise they need a change of pace, they ask granddaughter Jo to come back to Salthaven-on-Sea and help run the cafe. The book takes us through her first year of running the much loved, community focal point and chronicles the ups and downs of not only Jo's life but also of the friends and regulars at the café.
We see Jo struggle initially - a complete change of pace to her former life of being a teacher, it seems that she may have bitten off more than she can chew. Her fears and doubts are increased by the less than enthusiastic insistence from her Mother that she is wasting her life back in Salthaven. This is all Jo needs to fuel her determination and she sets out to prove her wrong.
As we go through the seasons and special occasions of this first year, we see Jo's character bloom and grow in confidence, this in turn is reflected in the success of the café. I loved Jo's attempts at playing Cupid - she seriously seems to have a knack for match-making. Jo soon realises that she herself has a secret admirer and I for one was as stumped as Jo at who it could be.
I loved the mystery of who had fallen for Jo- as I thought all of the characters set up as potential love interests could have been great matches for her. I couldn't figure out which man it would be - even right to the last few pages and I love that I was kept guessing. I was definitely happy with the end result though (for Jo and for other characters involved).
A great cast of characters with their own little stories created a real sense of community, I loved their individual personalities and what they all added to the book. Written with wonderful detail, including some absolutely mouth watering food descriptions, this book was a real pleasure to read, fun and full of emotion and suspense.
I would highly recommend The Little Café at the End of the Pier for a cosy, snuggle up and binge read book. I look forward to catching up on more by Helen J Rolfe too.