Good morning bookworm, do come in. Hang your scarf up on the dragon in the corner; he’s playing a game of statues with the others so he’ll stay like that for hours. I’ve just brewed some tea in the pot over there, so if you’d like to pour us both a cup I’ll cut a slice of apple loaf to go with it. I’ve been inspired to do more baking with fresh fruit after reading The Tokyo Bicycle Bakery by Su Young Lee. Have you heard of it? Here you go, tuck into this apple slice while I tell you all about it.
Here’s the blurb:
Fluttering cherry blossoms, gorgeous kimonos and sweet and sorrowful love.
For cake-loving college girl Hana, Japan was the romantic destination of her dreams. With boyfriend Jin she planned an exciting new life in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. But when she finally arrives after months of planning, Jin isn’t there.
Hana is left broken-hearted on a rainy Tokyo street. Jin left no note. One day he just walked out of classes and disappeared.
Hana begins her new life alone. Watching cherry blossoms fall into the Tokyo river. Working hard and delivering her lovely home-baked cakes by orange bicycle. Then she meets handsome young farmer Hikaru, and glimpses a new way forward – in an alien place where she doesn’t know a soul.
The Tokyo Bicycle Bakery is a sweet romance with a hint of magic realism. It’s a perfect book to carry with you and read on holiday or weekends.
Here’s a little about the author: Su Young Lee is a Korean romance author who lived in Tokyo, Japan for 10 years and now lives in London, England with her husband and two lovely cats.
Su works in academic publishing and loves baking, playing piano and working on her calligraphy.
And here’s my review: There has been quite a lot of doom and gloom in the world of late and I feel like this book was the perfect antidote to it. The blurb of the book doesn’t give much away and it meant that I was able to discover its delights as if I was slicing through layers of soft, dreamy sponge.
Having made a rather rash decision to go in search of her incommunicado boyfriend, Hana hits rock bottom as she realises that not only has he left without a word but that she doesn’t feel able to return home to continue to live with her parents. When opportunities arise, Hana seizes them with grace and gratitude, baking or cooking delicious creations to say thank you.
The characters are never entirely what they appear, even the most grouchy ones, and I loved them all for different reasons. Their back stories are often poignant and both Hana and her friends grow from their relationship.
Descriptions of Hana’s cooking and baking form a theme in every chapter and my mouth watered as I read how she created culinary delights using seasonal fruit and vegetables from the Kato farm. The fruit and vegetables are delivered by Hikaru, the farmer’s son who is taking increasing responsibility for the family farm as his father’s health declines. Still heartbroken over Jin’s disappearance, I watched as Hana and Hikaru’s friendship blossomed and rooted for them (no puns intended!) to become more than just friends.
If I had picked this book up when I was actually in the mood for a tense thriller, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it anywhere near as much. But if you’re in the mood for something which will soothe your soul and warm your heart, this book is for you. I’m looking forward to learning more about what Hana does next, especially since the book ended on a cliffhanger… A solid 4 stars, or perhaps I should change the rating to 4 out of 5 cakes!
One final point, well it’s more of a plea really to the author: Is there any possibility of a Tokyo Bicycle Bakery Cookbook being written? I would love to be able to recreate Hana’s delicious delights myself!
If you like the sound of The Tokyo Bicycle Bakery and want to purchase a copy for yourself, you can click on the book image above to go straight to Amazon (I don’t get anything for doing this, I’m just being a helpful bookworm). I was lucky enough to be gifted a digital copy of the book in return for my honest opinion so I must give thanks to the author and Rachel’s Random Resources.
It’s been lovely to see you again and I hope you can visit again soon. Before you put your scarf on, let me just give it a little spray to take the charred scent away; dragons can be very useful coat stands then they’re in statue mode but they do have a tendency to pong a little… Farewell, bookworm!