Review: 'Campari for Breakfast' by Sara Crowe (2014)
Life is full of terrible things. Ghosts of dead relatives, heartbreak... burnt toast.
In 1987, Sue Bowl's world changes for ever. Her mother dies, leaving her feeling like she's lost a vital part of herself. And then her father shacks up with an awful golddigger called Ivana.
But Sue's mother always told her to make the most of what she's got - and what she's got is a love of writing and some interesting relatives. So Sue moves to her Aunt Coral's crumbling ancestral home, Green Place, along with a growing bunch of oddballs and eccentrics. Not to mention the odd badger or two...
There she fully intends to write a book, fall in love, and learn to live decadently.
Sara Crowe, the author of ‘Campari for Breakfast’ is best known as an actress. Some of you might have seen her in the fabulous romantic comedy ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ (she played the role of the bride at the first wedding, Laura), and next to that she has also appeared on the West End in productions such as ‘Calendar Girls’ and ‘Private Lives.’ However, today we are not focussing on Sara Crowe the actress, but Sara Crowe the author, since her debut novel ‘Campari for Breakfast’ was released on the 10th of April. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a review copy (thanks so much, Madeline!) and be part of the blog tour for this exciting debut!
It’s 1987 and seventeen-year-old Sue Bowl’s world has just been turned upside down by her mother’s unexpected suicide. She can’t understand that her father is already together with another woman and decides to go and stay with her aunt Coral, who lives in an enormous country house with the name Green Place. In order to preoccupy herself with other things, Sue wants to focus on her ambitions to become an author. She starts a creative writing group together with her aunt and the other eccentric inhabitants of the house, and next to that she finds herself a job at a local cafe. Soon, Sue has enough to focus on: a crush on one of her co-workers, saving Green Place which is slowly crumbling down, and her search for her mother’s missing suicide note.
It took me a bit of time to get into this book; the storyline is a mix of both present and past events, told mainly from the perspective of Sue, but there are also passages from aunt Coral’s diary. Sue’s voice (which is really distinctive; the book even features the spelling mistakes Sue makes, which I think really adds to the whole atmosphere) fascinated me and as the story progressed I just wanted to jump into the book and live at Green Place together with Sue, Aunt Coral, and the rest of the characters. I particularly warmed to Sue, but the supporting cast consists of a brilliant blend of various personalities: lovely Aunt Coral, charming Joe, infuriating Loudolle... Each of them plays their own significant part in Sue’s journey to adulthood and adds something specific to the book.
While the suicide of Sue’s mother is central to the entire story, the book definitely has a hopeful and heart-warming side to it. I loved that Sue was busy with several things at the same time, providing the reader with various storylines to enjoy: her crush on one of the boys at the local cafe and how she tries to hide this from everyone, her search for her mother’s suicide note, the attempts to save Green Place. ‘Campari for Breakfast’ is an absolutely charming and quirky coming-of-age story; a book that left me with a feeling of positivity and a broad smile on my face!