The Coffee Story by Peter Salmon
|The Coffee Story by Peter Salmon|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The story of Teddy Everett, coffee supremo, and the women he loved, told in his own unique voice. A book to savour and enjoy. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: July 2011|
|External links: Author's website|
Teddy Everett, head of Everett and Sons Coffee is dying, slowly and painfully, of cancer. The Coffee Story is his story, told in his own (very descriptive) words. It goes from (although not necessarily in this order) his childhood in England, his adolescence in Ethiopia and then his life in the USA and Cuba. It's his time in Cuba which has put him where he is now – in prison. For his crimes he would normally have suffered the death penalty, but his sentence was commuted because of his illness and now the doctors try to save him. Or perhaps it's that they're trying to persuade Teddy that they're trying to save him – whether he wants to be saved or not.
Teddy hasn't much choice about where he is and once you start reading his story you're not going to have a lot of choices either. Frankly, he's not exactly likeable, but his life story is rather like a car accident; it's dreadful but there's absolutely no way that you can not look. The mood swings are violent: sometimes boastful, sometimes self-abasing, sometimes resigned and frequently desperate. You'll laugh, but I doubt that you'll cry for him. Teddy Everett is dying, and he's not going to care what you think one way or the other. Surprisingly though, by the end of the book you'll have a grudging respect for the man.
I came to this book in a rather unusual way. I met Peter Salmon at a lunch for authors and bloggers. He was great company and I can't remember when I last laughed quite so much. I didn't need to make a note of the title of the book: I knew I would remember it and I knew I wanted to read it. I'm long past the stage of judging books by their covers, but over the last few days I've realised that I'm not beyond pre-judging a book by its author. Having met Pete this book is not at all what I expected! I was thinking in terms of a thought-provoking story of the life of a man who had always been involved with coffee. I was not expecting a total assault on the senses and the vivid depiction of anger. I was stunned.
This is Pete Salmon's debut novel, but he was already known as a short story writer and this shows in the construction of the book. Every word earns its keep, every character comes off the page fully formed – even the first wife who is never given a name. It's a book to buy rather than borrow as you'll go back to it: I've already reread parts of it just for the pleasure of the words and I've put the book aside for a day in the garden when I can indulge myself in a complete reread.
With a cup of good coffee, of course.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For a book with a similar impact we can recommend Wish You Were Here by Graham Swift.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Coffee Story by Peter Salmon at Amazon.co.uk
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