Following her mother's death, Sue Bowl leaves her father and his new girlfriend Ivana and goes to live with her Aunt Coral in the old family home, Green Place. Sue would be happy living anywhere away from the loving couple but Green Place, filled with an increasing number of eccentric oldies, turns out to be the ideal place to pursue her love of writing, and her part-time job at Toastie cafe the ideal place to pursue love itself - the house is rambling, decaying, lacking in heating and possibly haunted; her aunt has too many debts, an Imelda Markos style passion for footwear and a secret attachment to her lodger Admiral Avery Little; and among the coffee machines and bread-buttering Sue falls for the attractions of the cafe owner's son Icarus.
Campari for Breakfast is a delightfully quirky coming of age tale about finding love and finding oneself. There are family secrets to be unearthed and a ghostly visitor to be braved, while the house threatens to crumble down and desperate ways are sought to save it.
The story is told mainly in the first person as entries in Sue's diary and her character shines through as charming and naive, though at times seeming much younger than her 17 years, with many a misspelling and misconstruction in her narration.
I absolutely adored this. It's light, funny and sad by turns, but overwhelmingly full of Sue's belief that one day she'll find love and begin to live decadently, sipping campari for breakfast! It's difficult to categorise but a great read for anyone (young or not so young) who enjoyed Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle but, with Sue's rather overblown literary efforts and her determination to set things right, I was also reminded of Flora Post and Cold Comfort Farm.
Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - DoubledayGenre - teen/adult/crossover fiction, coming of age
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