A lovely local charity shop find, I was drawn to the simple cover design and the inside blurb which partly reads:
“John Vir owns a newsagent’s in Southampton. His is the only shop that stocks space-dust along with packets of petrified celery soup, The Lady and Marxism Today, drosophilia-studded fruit and boxes of henna. Lucy and Paul are his favoured customers, especially Lucy with her enchanting purchases of catnip mice, hair bobbles and spangly combs.
They live across the road, above Snooke’s Electrical stores, soon to become the Bluebird Cafe…”
I loved the characters in this book. John Vir, the newsagent, estranged from his wife who has disappeared back to India and left him with challenging teens to care for, finds a soulmate in Lucy when they start going to the Cash & Carry together, and so believing he and Lucy were meant for each other, begins a plan to kill off Paul who he believes is too wrapped up with the local Badger Rescue Centre to provide Lucy with the relationship she truly deserves.
The other two supporting characters, Gilbert and Mavis, are charmingly grubby in their own special ways and as an ensemble cast, the whole story is a lovely light delight from start to finish.
This chapter opener had me snorting my breakfast tea:
“Mavis’s lounge was a shag-pile shrine to Kenny Rogers. Her pride and joy hung on the wall above the settee. It was a huge towel, bought at Southsea Funfair; a portrait of Kenny with his guitar standing on a mountain top surrounded by crotchets and clouds and quavers. She had almost all of his records as well as mugs, T-shirts, pictures, a clock with his face, and a mirror where, unless she jumped or ducked, it was Kenny’s face that stared back at her. The effect was uncanny as they had hair of the same colour and style.”
It’s this kind of attention to detail that I loved with ‘The Bluebird Cafe’ – and the perfect book to read after the dark twists of Graeme Cameron’s ‘Normal’. I’ll be keeping this one and keeping my eye out for more of Rebecca Smith.
7/10 charming, funny and delightfully fresh