ABOUT THE BOOK
In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.
In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.
But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .
Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?
Published by Picador
I’ve loved discovering translated Japanese fiction this year so had high hopes for this to be another quirky reading experience, but for some reason it just didn’t feel as magical to me as I hoped it would! It has all the elements of a mysterious cafe and time travelling experiences but it just fell a little flat for me and I didn’t feel connected with it as I’d hoped.
Set in a basement cafe set off the beaten track, it’s a story that follows a few characters as they find themselves there for whatever reason as they’ve heard of this ‘legend’ that if you sit in a certain seat in the cafe, you can be transported back in time to meet someone from your past. There are a number of very important rules that need to be followed for it to work but that doesn’t put off these characters as they are desperate to go back to have one more moment in a certain point in their life – but the present cannot change. Call it the butterfly effect if you will.
There are some very emotional and poignant reasons for wanting to go back – from a woman who let a love walk out of her life, to a woman losing her husband to alzheimers – and reading their stories makes you understand why they wanted to go back. And what it shows is that going back alters their mindset – maybe things happened for a reason and you are left thinking that sometimes things are just meant to be and to happen in the way they did.
I did enjoy this story and it was quite enlightening but I did find at times it felt more like I was reading a play script as the flow just wasn’t there throughout. A sweet read.
My thanks to Picador and Netgalley for the e-copy in return for a fair and honest review.