From Cumbria to the Caribbean…
Flying solo in their middle years, can life really begin again for Jo and Hattie? Is there hope for the newly single baby boomers and can romance happen? ‘A story about friendship and loss, is there hope for those of a certain age?’
‘The time to be happy is now…’ Jo remembers her late husband’s words but is struggling to face the lonely future that lies ahead. A heartbroken widow, Jo finds herself alone with ghostly memories at Kirkton House – a Cumbrian Manor that until recently, she ran as a thriving hotel. Her two sons have moved away, Jimmy to run an bar in Barbados, and Zach to London to pursue a career as a celebrity chef. Middle-age and widowhood loom frighteningly and Jo determines to sell up and start again, despite protestations from colourful friend, Hattie and erstwhile admirer Pete Parks.
Hattie convinces Jo to postpone any life-changing decisions by enjoying a Caribbean holiday but their holiday set of a course of events that brings mayhem and madness to Jo and her family. Confused and anxious for her future, can life really begin again for Jo?
While I read this book, the dull skies of summer in North East England where replaced by the sun of Barbados as I joined Hattie and Jo on their Caribbean holiday.
Jo and Hattie are friends in their fifties who have recently gone through big changes in their lives. While Jo figures out how she is going to move on in her life and come to terms with what has happened, the friends go on holiday to Barbados.
One of the things I really liked about Coffee, Tea, the Caribbean and Me is that it centred on older women, rather than the women in their twenties and thirties that you normally see in novels of this genre. This made such a refreshing change and it was so nice to have the perspective of women at a different stage in their lives. Caroline writes about relationship losses, children leaving home and wondering where to go in life following these changes with feeling and yet also with humour.
I loved the characters, especially the larger-than-life Hattie. She is exactly how you would hope to be as a woman in that age group or who you would want as a friend when going through a tough time. She is carefree and funny and I warmed to her instantly. Jo is the more sensible friend, and the characters together are just perfect.
The descriptions of Barbados are great, and I really felt (and wished!) I was away with them. After reading, it would be a bit of a shock coming back to the reality that is Sunderland in August!
The only criticism I would have of the book is that I found it a bit slow moving to begin with and I struggled to keep my attention on it initially. Some of the chapters felt a little superfluous with not a lot happening. However, it picked up in the latter half of the book and I again became interested in the decisions that Jo had to make and what would become of the two friends.
Coffee, Tea the Caribbean and Me is the second novel featuring Jo and Hattie, however, it works just as well as a stand alone novel as I have not read the first in the series.
It is a light and easy read that would be a great companion by the pool or on the beach while on your jollies.
Thank you to Caroline James for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
Published on 12 February 2016 by Ramjam Publishing.