Are you looking for a VERY quick, adorable novel that is perfect for a cozy cup of coffee on an afternoon with nothing much else to do? I know you must be, because we all have Covid (again) right now, so many of us are once again looking at 5-10 days with limited social obligations. I read this book in one afternoon in between loads of laundry and dishes, and it was the perfect afternoon novel. It is sweet tale of magical realism – in a small town in Japan there is a cafe that allows you to travel in time. Like all time-travel novels, there are strict rules about how this works – the title is derived from one that most of us would find the most perplexing. Time travel is made possible by coffee poured in a specific cup – and you have to drink that entire cup of coffee before it gets cold. Once you’ve finished that cup of coffee, your visit is over. The novel is broken up into four chapters, telling the story of lovers, husbands and wives, sisters, mothers and daughters, all separated by time. Oh, something else to note – you cannot change the future. Nothing about this visit will change what has already happened (although, how it impacts the future is an open question). So, although you can visit an ex or drop in on a loved one who has died, nothing you do will change the outcome you’re living with in the present. All roads lead to whatever life you’re living here and now.
This is quite a lovely little message – we don’t have a cafe where we can travel around in time, but all of us are also constrained to living our lives as they are right now. We don’t have any other choice – there’s no way to alter what has already happened. The past is in the past. The only thing that changes is our attitude about what is happening.
I thought this novel was quirky, if a tad sappy (and okay, I cried a bit – I’m prone to that but if you are, too, you might want to have tissues handy). I could see this being a comfort read that is returned to many times over when you want to simply enjoy an afternoon curled up in a familiar story.