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Book Club review: Before the Coffee Gets Cold


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by Anne van Oorschot

23 Jun 2020. Since our last book discussions had been virtual ones, it was a special treat to be able to actually get together this past June.

Tilburg International Club Expat Book ClubThere was still a virtual flavor to things as Katie, an active past TIC member who relocated to LA, California 7 years ago, had heard about our Book Discussion evening, read the book, and joined us as well. So the laptop was open on one end of the table which was very fun!!  The weather was beautiful so we sat outside in our back garden and enjoyed the scenery as well. Since the weather was warm, we skipped the hot tea and opted for ice cream…always a good choice!

The book had been suggested by Kelly who was unfortunately unable to attend, but she sent discussion questions and admitted she hadn’t liked the book. Actually, she thought it was terrible!

Tilburg Expat book clubAlthough we didn’t totally agree with her, there were a number of aspects we didn’t like about the book. There was so much emphasis on clothes – what each character wore was minutely explained; actions were often over explained – she picked up the coffee cup, she drank some coffee; and the characters were quite flat in general. There were also things whose significance we kept thinking would be explained later, but never were, such as the 3 clocks with different times hanging in the café.  

In spite of all that however, it was an interesting book with an interesting premise. Would you go back in time if you could not change anything that had happened? The book focused on 4 different relationships: lovers, husband & wife, sisters and Mother & child and the exchanges these characters had was often very emotional. A wife going back to meet the husband who does not remember her, in the early stages of his Alzheimer’s; a woman going back to meet her sister prior to her death in a car crash, and a Mother and daughter who never met traveling to the past and future to meet. These were emotional encounters and ended up changing lives even though they could not change circumstances.

The book seemed almost better suited as a screenplay and it has indeed been made into a movie. Maybe in the next club year we can find it and see how this unusual story works as a film… 

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