16 Jan 2020


ISBN 978-1-5290-2958-1

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 – translated from Japanese by Geoffrey Trousselot – 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?
- Inner Front Cover Blurb

'Oh gosh, is it that time? Sorry, I have to go,' the man mumbled evasively, as he stood up and reached for his bag.
- First Sentence (Chapter 1: The Lovers)

He held up the brown envelope to show her. He was planning to tell her that he had Alzheimer's in this letter.
But I don't need to read it ... I already know. It would make more sense to give it to me in the past. The 'me' that Fusagi can't bring himself to give it to ... I guess if he can't pass it to that version of me, it's OK that I take it. That's just the way things are.
- Memorable Moment (Page 100)

MY THOUGHTS ... Oh dear! A time travel novel ... I'm afraid I'm totally thrown by the whole concept. Maybe this novel will be different though; maybe the penny will drop and I'll get it. Then again, maybe not.

Not a novel I would have chosen but its the latest book to be read by the reading group that I'm part of. I guess that partly what its all about though, right? To read books that we might not have otherwise considered? To read books that take us out of our comfort zone? 

Certainly a book that took me out of my comfort zone; alas there was to be no dropping of the penny that would see me understanding time travel as a concept. Other than that ...


More a collection of short stories all of which have a special seat in an extraordinary cafe at the heart of them. As with all such books there were some 'stories' that I enjoyed more than others, some characters who touched me more than others (namely chapter II: Husband and Wife which extended I actually thought would have made a readable enough novella), as a whole though ...

Translated from its original Japanese. I sometimes think its all too easy to 'blame' things as being 'lost in translation' when it is in fact something about the writing itself that is the 'problem'. In this instance whether it was the episodic nature of the story-telling, whether it was the fact that the narrative was not that of one person but four, whether it was that some of its essence was indeed lost in translation; whatever was to 'blame' I found the plot disjointed and the characterisation lacking in depth.

SUMMED UP IN A SENTENCE ... Each to their own; ultimately for me personally though just like coffee itself, Before The Coffee Gets Cold, simply wasn't to my taste.

Image result for name felicity


Brian Joseph said...

I tend to like such stories. The concept of time travel bounded by the described rules sounds interesting. I like the coffee shop angle. Too bad that some other parts of this are came up short for you.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

What an intriguing idea. With time travel, a genre I don't often read, I tend to just go with it and not think too hard about how it happens. Thanks for sharing.

Kelly said...

This is a wonderful review, Felicity, and I particularly like your clever way of summing it up.

It does sound interesting to me, if just for the stories themselves. I've grown to enjoy time-travel novels over the years as long as I don't try to make them "work" in reality. (my limited knowledge of physics doesn't feel it's possible)

nightwingsraven said...

I am not certain about
this book. Although the
concept of the coffeeshop
is interesting.
But thank you for your
excellent review.

Suko said...

This wasn't your cup of tea. Thank you for your honest review. However, I like the sound of this book--and prefer my coffee to be warm, if not hot. :)