Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café - Jenny Colgan I'm not the biggest fan of chick-lit but every now and again, when life is stressful, I crave something light and fluffy to read and chick lit is usually what I turn to. In this offering by Jenny Colgan, Issy is a thirty something working in admin for a real-estate agency who loves to bake the recipes passed on by her baker grandfather. When she is made redundant from her job, Issy decides to take the plunge and use her redundancy pay-out to open up a cupcake cafe in Stoke Newington. But running a business isn't easy and Issy has long working hours, a lack of customers and red tape to deal with, alongside working out what to do about her cut-throat property developer boyfriend Graeme.I'm not an expert on chick lit by any means, but this book was far from the best in the genre. The basic plot was an interesting one, and I loved how the recipes Issy used were included at the start of each chapter but overall, Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe was missing a hefty dose of realism. I'm not saying I expect chick-lit to deal with heavy issues all the time, there's nothing wrong with a bit of escapism, but this was ridiculous. Issy straight away finds a location for her shop, magically has just the right amount of money, is able to open in a matter of weeks despite everything needing a re-fit, gets the first bank loan she applies for, meets the perfect employee by chance and has no issues with health and safety regulations, licencing etc. If opening a business was really that easy, everyone would do it. It was also astounding how quickly Issy was able to go from struggling to make ends meet to turning a generous profit. There was no real sense of the worry involved in starting up a business.The characterisation was lazy too. Issy was relatable but almost everyone else was a stereotype from the bad boy boyfriend to the responsible 'other man' looking after his baby brother, to the snobby yummy mummies with designer prams, to the resentful council estate Mum who over-feeds her baby boy with junk, to the builders only wanting bacon sandwiches and commenting on 'posh birds'. Colgan was clearly trying to say something about class issues but it came across as very clumsy and simplistic. Colgan does attempt to give these characters some depth by the end of the novel but doesn't quite succeed. Even the romance part of the novel was lacking as it relied on Issy being completely ignorant about how uncaring Graeme was, which was so obvious in the text that it made Issy look a bit stupid.My review so far of this book has been very harsh. It wasn't all bad - Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe was easy to read and certainly provided some escapism. But I just don't see why books should be allowed to be so uninspiring just because they are chick lit. Next time I crave something from this genre, I think I'll stick to Marian Keyes.