This is the first of a pile of books my mother-in-law had prepared for me when I came to see her in Ripon in August. It is the second Milly Johnson I have read, and I truly enjoyed the first one. You can read that review here.
Once again, we find ourselves in the Barnsley area. But while in the "Teashop"-book, the teashop really was the focal point for all the action, "The Sunflower Café" is not where everything happens. In fact, it took more than 20 chapters before some of the characters went to the café for the first time, and afterwards, we read only about a few more visits.
So, what it the book about?
In short: Friendship and love. Big words, and indeed big changes in the characters' lives which prove the immense value of both.
Most of the story concentrates on three women, but there are other characters featuring almost as prominently. The cast is well drawn and credible, not too black and white (with a few exceptions).
Cheryl sends her boyfriend of 10 years packing after he has - once again - gambled away all her savings, money she wanted to use for one more attempt at IVF. She is left with no money and no car, which makes her job as a cleaner not easier.
Della has been managing the office of a cleaning service for decades, always hoping one day her boss would realize that she could be so much more to him - if only he wasn't married... But when that marriage does end, it is completely different from what Della had always imagined.
Connie spent all her married life looking after others, and chocolate was her only comfort. Then something happens that kills her love of chocolate for ever... or does it?
The lives of these three women become linked in a way none of them could have foreseen. New opportunities arise for each of them, at work as well as in their private lives. Sometimes the obstacles seem to be too big to ever be overcome, but the ladies show how much strength each of them possesses when it really matters, and there are (of course) happy endings all around.
Some of the twists and turns are rather foreseeable, but by no means all, and I still wanted to keep on reading to find out what was going to happen next, and even when I did guess right, how it would come about.
It was light, enjoyable reading with a good portion of humour thrown in, and I wouldn't mind reading another Milly Johnson soon.