The Quaker Café by Brenda Bevan Remmes

the quaker cafe

  • Synopsis (Excerpt from Goodreads)

When Liz Hoole, a free-spirited liberal from the Midwest, marries into a conservative Quaker family, she knows that raising children in compliance with Quaker values will be challenging. Twenty-five years later, she still feels like she’s falling short of expectations. Fortunately, her faith and her friends in the small, rural North Carolina town of Cedar Branch keep her strong.

After her best friend’s politically powerful father dies, Liz stumbles upon secrets from the past that threaten to unravel the current harmony in Cedar Branch, a town with a history of racial tension. As she researches more and eavesdrops on gossip at the Quaker Café, where everyone meets each morning, Liz soon discovers the truth about an injustice that she cannot reveal to anyone—not even her husband.

Surrounded by a cast of richly drawn Southern characters, Liz learns that even good people can make bad choices. Now, she must decide whether she has the strength to bring a past wrong to light, despite the consequences.

It pains me to say this, but this book kind of fell flat for me.
The synopsis sounds interesting and it actually taps into some very important issues that have been deeply entrenched in our society, this book has got a lot more than meets the eye, but overall, it failed to grab me emotionally.

Like I mentioned earlier, the subject matters that are told in this story are very important; racial issues, religious segregation and small conflicts and discordance that sprang from differences in perspectives between two communities or traditions.

Throughout the book, such issues are well-incorporated in the main/side stories and reminded me of the fact that we’re still living in a very segregated world and we have hardly made any progress in racial integration; there are still a lot of people out there who are feeling neglected or downtrodden.  This book also conveys a very important message; truth has got its own price. What’s in the past should stay in the past sometimes and be left undisturbed.

The whole Isaac Perry incident and the character dynamics surrounding this event were particularly gripping; this story line was absolutely a page-turner. It kept me engaged.

However, I’ve also got a feeling that the writing is weak at times; it wasn’t that solid nor consistent.
Like I said, some parts are really emotionally engaging and captivating; the main plot is solid and well-crafted. The emotional tension between the characters was especially very strong and beautifully depicted. The ripple effect stems from the unearthing of the well-kept secret was pretty enthralling too. It struck a chord with me and I quite enjoyed it. However, some parts – particularly what should have been the most crucial parts felt rather slippery and flat for me.
Especially the ending, the church scene felt rather hastily wrapped-up and anticlimactic. I was really underwhelmed and disappointed by that to be honest.

I might have felt even more so because I actually enjoyed this book up until that point.
I did generally enjoy the story of a conservative, close-knit society with the intricate character dynamics. That said, however, I was rather disappointed by the author kind of dropping the ball at the most crucial moments in the story.
Take the aforementioned Church scene for instance, there are a lot of CAPS in the dialogues and I assume the author tried to stress the significance of each remark, to better get the message across. However, it had an adverse effect on me; I found myself rapidly losing interest and focus, looking at the whole thing in a very critical light. The impact from such blunders was actually huge; all the good feels and thoughts that I’d had were quickly lost on me and it resulted in turning my overall impression toward this book upside-down. I even think this book would have been a lot more engaging and fun to read if the author had been able to maintain the sense of suspense and tension in her writing.

The characters didn’t leave much big of an impact on me either; I couldn’t relate to any of the characters as strongly as I would have liked. While I find it really nice to bond with friends as strongly as Liz, Maggie and Billie do, most of the things about this book felt rather plain and a bit dull to me sadly to say.

That’s my overall thoughts and feels on this book.
Don’t get me wrong; I did enjoy the story in general, but the ending which fizzled out made me do a 180 on this book.
That said, some readers may enjoy this book. It could have been something with me which made me stop short of enjoying it entirely.

I gave this book 3 stars.


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