Having absolutely loved Libby Page’s The Lido, I was extremely excited to get my hands on The 24-Hour Cafe, which has just published this month. Page’s next novel takes place over the course of 24 hours, in a cafe near Liverpool Street station. Stella’s is open all hours of the day and night, for weary travelers on their way to and from London, lively revelers after a night out, and anyone who needs the comforting warmth of a safe place.
The novel is centered around two of the cafe’s employees, Hannah and Mona – who are also friends and housemates. They have both been drawn to London to follow their dreams: Hannah as a musician and Mona as a dancer. As they tried to find their way in this welcoming but sometimes overwhelming city, they gravitated towards each other and became firm friends. Although, now, as they get older and the pressures of being a 30 something in this city of possibilities begin to grow, we see their relationship come under threat.
Their friendship for me was the heart of the whole novel, and it was a breath of fresh air to see this type of relationship treated with such sincerity and tenderness. We experience many different types of love in our lifetime, and it was a joy to read about friendship rather than the more usual obsession with romantic relationships. Interestingly, although it is a novel very much about their friendship, we get to know Hannah and Mona separately, as the novel follows them working shifts in the cafe, one after the other. They only cross paths between their shifts, in a heated and pivotal exchange in the middle of the book.
While Hannah and Mona work, customers come and go, and the novel replicates that intriguing glimpse into people’s lives we get people watching in public spaces. There are several stories within the story, as we segway into short passages following different customers: student Dan seeking somewhere warm to spend the evening; Martha and Harry who are about to embark on the holiday of a lifetime; Joe and Haziq who have to go separate ways when they leave the cafe. Just as with short stories, some of these scenarios are resolved, some are left as unanswered questions.
I found this really captured the spirit of a space like this in a busy city, and made for an original format. My favourite thing about the novel was definitely Hannah and Mona’s relationship – a celebration and examination of friendship, which I found very heartening. The 24-Hour Cafe is out now, with Orion – if you loved The Lido, like me, you’re going to need to give this one a read too!
About the Author
Libby Page is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller and runaway success of 2018, The Lido. The Lido has sold in over twenty territories around the world and film rights have been sold to Catalyst Global Media.
After writing, Libby’s second passion is outdoor swimming. Libby lives in London where she enjoys finding new swimming spots and pockets of community within the city. She and her sister run a blog and Instagram account @theswimmingsisters, documenting their swims and the benefits of outdoor exercise for mental health.
You can follow Libby on Twitter @LibbyPageWrites
Many thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me to participate in this tour and to Orion Fiction for sending me an eCopy to review.
Look out for further reviews by other the bloggers on this tour:
Sophie @Sophie_Jo_Books 📚🐾