Book review: Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

Beautifully warm, lightly baked with a dash of spice and certainly not over-cooked.

Monday, 25th April 2011, 7:00 am

Jenny Colgan’s frothy new concoction is a piece of cake for those partial to tasty food - and an entertaining romp.

Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe, a scrumptious tale of love amongst the baking tins, is the perfect mix of courtship and confectionery, love and lattes, romance and recipes.

A former columnist for The Guardian, Colgan is funny and perceptive, and her clever chick-lit novels serve up life’s crises with a nod, a wink and a few home truths.

Here she uses a deft touch to tackle traditional themes like ambition, confidence, families, ageing and relationships while serving up a collection of try-them-yourself, mouth-watering cake recipes.

Issy Randall, like her beloved grandfather Joe, is a baker born and bred but the 31-year-old has bills to pay so she works for a big commercial property company in London and spends the rest of the time dreaming of pineapple cream recipes and floaty lemon cupcakes.

She’s a very popular, not least because she bakes twice as many cakes as she really needs and hands out the surplus to flatmate Helena, work colleagues and the local bus queue.

‘You could do this for a living,’ remarks one grateful recipient and when Issy is unexpectedly made redundant and walks out with a cheque for £20,000, this could be just the time to take a leap of faith and open her own little Cupcake Cafe.

Armed with her grandfather’s amazing recipes and with all her friends backing the venture, Issy invests in a quirky little shop only a stone’s throw from her home and prepares to turn it into a thriving cafe.

She has the wisdom and wit of no-nonsense nurse Helena to keep her spirits high and the practical help of her invaluable cafe assistant Pearl MacGregor to help her build a successful business.

Meanwhile, she is juggling the two men in her life...her ex-boss Graeme Denton, good-looking and ambitious but who has never yet called her his ‘girlfriend’, and the helpful Austin Tyler, her bank’s small business manager, who is surprisingly easy to talk to.

But there’s trouble ahead and Issy may just have bitten off more than she can chew.

Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe is smart but not too smart, sweet but not too sweet and full of delicious down-to-earth humour.

Time to indulge yourself.

(Sphere, paperback, £7.99)