Not all books need to have something catastrophic or crazy happen. Or take you into the Red Room of Pain …
Sometimes, a good book makes you feel comfortable and cozy. It makes you worry about its hero and want the best for its characters. It sticks with you. You miss the characters when it’s over, and you want to find out what happens next in their lives. When I read Eileen Goudge’s The Replacement Wife, I was captivated, and I was angry when it ended because I wasn’t ready to let go of those characters.
Yesterday’s News is along those lines. You come to care so deeply for Agnes that when Kajsa Ingemarsson ends her story, you feel empty, if not a tad aggravated. NOW? You end it NOW? But I’m not ready! What happens to Agnes?
Before you pick up this book, you first need to make sure that you have a full stomach, because Yesterday’s News takes place in a restaurant. Agnes has worked in restaurants for ten years, eventually earning her way toward being a head waitress. But when her boss makes a crude pass at her and she costs him an expensive bottle of wine, it’s time to find a new job. She meets up with Kalle, an old friend who is starting his own restaurant, and she agrees to join him in his venture.
The Yellow Lemon Tree will feature Mediterranean-style food, and Agnes convinces two former waitstaff pals to join her on the floor. In the kitchen are Filip and Paolo, the latter of whom Agnes recently met and spent quality time with. <wink wink> Yesterday’s News takes you from the weeks before the restaurant’s opening to the month or so afterwards, as Kalle and his staff struggle to establish their culinary endeavor. What would help, they all agree, is a favorable review in the local Stockholm paper.
Ingemarsson peppers her story with Agnes’s family, her best friend Lussan, and a quirky neighbor given to playing Bob Dylan very loudly. And repetitively.
Agnes is a needy person, but not in a bad way. She requires order and safety in her life, all the more now that her boyfriend Tobias dumped her. A lot happens to her throughout the book, some of it good, some of it sad. Ingemarsson created a character who we like – a lot! We want Agnes to heal her broken heart, to experience success in the restaurant, and to help her family through their struggles. We want her to be happy. Agnes doesn’t always make it easy; she’s too quick to see what she wants to see in her friends, family and especially Tobias.
That was the kind of guy he was. Self-confident, thought Agnes. And even though she could feel threatened by his fickleness she wished that she too could let go like that. Live in the here and now, stop booking laundry times a month in advance and paying her bills on time. Trust that everything would work itself out. Tobias didn’t need a fixed abode or fixed plans. He wanted to be his own mater in charge of his own time. She, who was everything Tobias wasn’t – orderly, organized, structured – found it hard keeping up.
Ingemarsson tells us so much in those lines. Clearly, Tobias is not good for Agnes, but where we see irresponsibility and self-focus, Agnes sees admirable charm. Yet we root for her, and when she leaves us at the novel’s conclusion, we miss her.
Yesterday’s News is a wonderful story focused on interesting characters. It’s a romance, a sort of delayed coming-of-age, and a character study. It’s just good, faithful readers.