The first book in this series, Before the Coffee Gets Cold, absolutely broke my heart and I adored it. I knew I needed more instantly. When I found out that there were 3 books already published in Japanese I immediately went to see if translations were going to be made! Thankfully they are doing so and Tales from the Cafe is the second book in this beautiful series!
Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5
Author: Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translated by Geoffrey Trousselot
In returning to Café Funiculi Funicula we get four more tales. Four more life stories which explore in even more depth the grief and regret these characters feel. I enjoyed that in comparison to each other and also to the first book, each individual had a different reason for sitting in the fated chair. Each of them had a different story leading up to this point, leading them to want to explore another time. Although the overall base themes of regret still run throughout each tale, as is expected when the subjects are wishing to play with time, the reasonings behind each feel unique and personal to them.
We do get to learn more about characters we have already met in the first book. I don’t wish to give too much away on this point, as I personally enjoyed discovering this for myself, but seeing some of our repeat characters get their turn in the chair as well as learning more about how their lives have progressed and developed was another aspect of the story I loved. It really adds to the overall feeling that the Funiculi Funicula presents to the reader and fleshes out the world around this impossible chair.
As with the first book the writing is very slow and intentional throughout. Also as with the first book, however, I read through this book so quickly and was loath to put it down when I had to! The pacing is very methodical and purposeful which leads one story into another. I have seen in another review someone stating that they did not like the repetitive nature of the rules each time. For me, personally, these repeated instructions add more texture to the world of the café, as I’m sure those words have been said within it many times. It also is part and parcel of the process. Just as in Doctor Who, the Doctor races around the TARDIS pressing buttons and flicking levers, just instead this method of time travel is more certain and informed. You know what to expect, as much as you can, and you know the rules laid out for you and the consequences if they aren’t followed.
I am incredibly excited for the third book to be translated! I already know that I will be so sad when there are no more books for me to read from this little series. I can’t wait to learn more about… well let’s just say the last character mentioned (I don’t want to give anything away!) as well as seeing the café family develop and how they react to new time travellers. I really do recommend picking this series up, there’s a reason that Before the Coffee Gets Cold was such a hit and I recommend diving into this beautiful and meditative world.
Thank you to NetGalley and Picador for a free eCopy of this book in return for an honest review.