Review: Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, Translated by Geoffrey Trousselot

Imagine this ... In a downstairs basement, that leads off a small alley in Tokyo is a cafe. An old fashioned style cafe that has been serving coffee for more than one hundred years. There also just happens to be one chair in the cafe which visitors can use to travel through time. The catch? Most of the time it is occupied by a ghost who'll curse anyone who asks them to move. And anyone lucky enough to get to the coveted seat will soon find that one, time travel is limited only to inside the cafe, it cannot be used to alter the past and travellers must return to the present before their cup of coffee gets cold. Because of these limitations, there aren't that many people eager to travel through time. But for four individuals, it might just change the course of their future.

This was an enjoyable short read. Although I loved each of the time traveler's stories, I'd be lying if I said that the last one, Mother and Child didn't make me tear up. The reasons for each of the characters wanting to travel through time vary, but each is compelling and comes to a satisfactory conclusion. Although some of the nuances about life in Tokyo were lost on me, I found each character easy to identify with, whether it was a woman who wishes she'd said something else to her lover as he broke up with her, a woman who has a question for her husband who has dementia, a woman who wishes that she could see her sister one last time before she dies and a terminally ill pregnant woman who wants the opportunity to travel to the future to see her child just once.

Overall, Before the Coffee Gets Cold is a well written and thought provoking read.

Highly recommend.

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