Did I nearly cry when I found out my local bookshop was selling this book a day early, and I scored the last copy?
Before Your Memory Fades by Toshikazu Kawaguchi is the third novel in the Before the Coffee Gets Cold series. The story has a recurring cast of characters and some new customers.
Cafe Donna Donna is a small but popular cafe located on the hillside of Mount Hakodate, offering stunning views of the port and tasty treats. However, there is another speciality that isn’t on the menu. The ability to go back in time. Just like its sister cafe, Tokyo’s cafe Funiculi Funicula, if you sit in a special seat you can go back in time, but you must finish your cup of coffee before it gets cold, or you will pay the ultimate price.
There are a few other rules, such as not being able to leave your seat during your trip and you can only meet the person you wish to see again if they visited the cafe in the past. These rules put off a few folks, but in this novel, we meet four customers willing to take that chance to see a loved one last time.
The structure is the same in every Before the Coffee Gets Cold book, but that is why I like it, the focus is on the characters and their feelings. Everyone has a story and I cried at pretty much all of them. However, it was a good cry, like getting something out of your system and making you feel better afterwards. I hope that makes sense.
The lush descriptions of the autumn leaves turning red and the beauty of Mount Hakodate made me want to book a ticket to Japan then and there. Not to mention the cosy vibes Before Your Memory Fades and the other two exudes from the pages are unbeatable. I highly suggest you drink some coffee or burn some coffee wax melts while reading, it makes for an immersive reading experience. Although I did feel my heart race as I reached for the mug, only for it to be a bit cool to the touch. For a second, I thought I was going to end up as a ghost!
There is a bit of a recap of sorts regarding those working at the cafe and how time travel works. I guess this is for the benefit of those reading the novel as a standalone, but since I read the previous two, I found it a touch unnecessary. I do think to truly enjoy Before Your Memory Fades to the fullest, you should have read the others before this one. There is a continuous plotline regarding the family that is really satisfying for those in the know.
I was so excited to finally read this book that I started reading it on the train home. Big mistake, as I was in tears in a matter of moments. Sobbing on a train was not how I expected my journey home to go, but here we are.
From what I can gather, there is a fourth novel currently available in Japanese. I am deeply in love with this series, so I can’t wait for that one to be available in English.
A hug in book form with lovable and relatable characters with a sprinkle of magic realism. A perfect cosy read for the cosiest season.
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