Originally published: 23 January 2020
Author: Libby Page
Published by: Orion Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Dates read: 12-16 January 2020
I was lucky enough to hear Libby Page speak at the Guildford Book Festival in 2018 and bought a copy of The Lido as it sounded wonderful. I enjoyed it very much and when I saw she had a second book out I was keen to read it!
In The 24 Hour Café, we spend a day in Stella’s Café, opposite Liverpool Street Station in London. Described as a diner, it is a quirky place, with a mash-up of British and American nostalgia on display, Formica tables, black and white checked lino on the floor and a stuffed brown bear called Ernest taking pride of place!
Hannah and Mona are best friends, they live together and share shifts working as waitresses at the café. The café is how they pay for their dreams of being performers – Hannah is a singer and Mona is a dancer. Both women are 30, have worked in the café for 5 years and both are starting to fear that their time has passed. Both talented and hard working for these two, the big break has yet to arrive. The book starts as Hannah arrives for her shift at midnight and Mona leaves to go home.
Told over the course of her 12 hour shift, we hear about how Hannah has got to this point in her life. How Mona and Hannah met, how they came to live together and how sad she is after a recent relationship breakup.
When Mona arrives back at the café for her shift at midday, she has some news that will test her friendship with Hannah. The book then continues with Mona’s story.
As well as the main story which is about the friendship between the two women, we also hear from the customers that visit the café and the problems and happiness that they have in their lives. A student who has lost his mum and has no where to sleep and the new mother who is hiding in the café during the night struggling with post natal depression are two stories that stood out for me. These mini background stories were brilliant – I often sit in a coffee shop or a doctors waiting room and wonder about the stories of those around me!
I really enjoyed the two women’s different viewpoint of their friendship and I liked the way Page interspersed it with stories of the customers. I love the way she describes these pockets of London and the sense of community, even amongst strangers. You get a sense of the international cross section of people who live in London and you get a real feeling of acceptance. Thoroughly believable and ultimately uplifting, the fact that the story is told in just a 24 hour period was clever. I could totally picture the café and the people in it and I would love to visit for a milkshake and a pile of pancakes!
Many thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me on the blog tour and to Orion Books for sending me a copy! Be sure to checkout the other stops below:
About the author:
Libby Page is the debut author of The Lido, published in the UK by Orion and by Simon and Schuster in the US. Rights to The Lido have been sold in over 20 other territories around the world.
Before writing The Lido Libby worked as a campaigner for fairer internships, a journalist at the Guardian and a Brand Executive at a retailer and then a charity.
After writing, Libby’s second passion is outdoor swimming. Libby lives in London where she enjoys finding new swimming spots and pockets of community within the city.