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Happy People Read and Drink Coffee

The title of the book is actually the name of a book café, run by the main character in this story, Diane. She comes from a wealthy Parisian family, who gave her the store to run. Diane is very happily married with a loving husband, and daughter Clara. In fact, life couldn’t be better for this French family. Felix is a family friend who helps Diane run the book café.

 This idyllic life is soon shattered by an enormous tragedy. Diane has never had to manage, or overcome any hurdles, to achieve what she wanted. She is paralysed with fear and despair.  In fact, she barely leaves her apartment for a year, visited only by Felix, who regales her with stories of his nightly escapades.

 Grief manifests itself in many ways, but for most people, time lessens pain, and the mind prepares to take the next step.  Diane’s next step leads her to Ireland, to a place she finds by sticking her finger blindly on a point on the map. She discovers that distance is no cure or aid to forgetting, and that nothing has changed apart from the scenery. She is renting a cottage by the sea, and next door lives a very grumpy man. He is surly and bad mannered and makes it plain he wants nothing to do with her. They fight often as they are neighbours and can’t help bumping into each other on the beach or at the pub. If Edward is rude, then she is equally arrogant and stubborn. Not the makings of a friendship you would think.

 Gradually, Edward and Diane begin to form a relationship bred of recognition by both of them, that each is a much wounded person. However, this is not an easy romantic solution for either of them. There are lives to be lived and paths to be followed for each of these people to find happiness and contentment, running away won’t help and hiding from society is not a solution.

 It is refreshing to read a book that has a romantic/tragic element, but is realistic in some of the ways people sort out their lives. To move forward and achieve is a measure of healing, but it comes with sadness and pain. Life will never be the same but there are times to enjoy, satisfaction to be gained, and pleasures to be had.

Author Agnes Martin-Lugand
Publisher Allen & Unwin/Arena
ISBN 9781760291549
Distributor Allen & Unwin
Released June 2016