Quaker Cafe – book review

Author – Brenda Bevan Remmes

Narrator – Bahni Turpin

Book review –  

Liz Hoole married into a Quaker family 25 years ago.  While being more of a free-spirited liberal from the Midwest, she has learned to respect the Quaker lifestyle even if she doesn’t always agree with it.  

While preparing to run for public office and her son’s upcoming wedding, Liz doesn’t know how challenging this year will be not only to her, but to her family and the entire community.  

The underlying message to this story is that secrets are harmful and affect more than you realize, but don’t have to be the end of the story.

The struggle to understand and respect other points of view than what you feel.  How hard it is to keep a secret that isn’t yours to share, especially when the knowledge might help to save a life.  Liz is told a huge secret from someone that she has grown to respect greatly.  And it’s not a happy secret… not a surprise there.  But it’s a secret that has been part of a long standing injustice in the community, and which has continued to keep the community divided.  

As bad as the secret is, coming out 56 years later will wound countless members of the community in untold ways, but its time has come.  For better or worse, it’s time for the truth to come out, and Liz and others are determined to minimize the damage when it does. And to save the community they all love.

My first book from Narrator Bahni Turpin, I was pleasantly surprised.  There are some totally stellar character performances here.  Overall a great performance.  Having lived in the South myself, I found Bahni’s Southern accent to be very nicely done.   

Especially her portrayal of Reverend Brodnax of the Jerusalum Baptist Church. Her performance of Maggie, one of Liz’s best friends who contracts cancer, and Maggie’s struggle to try to defeat the cancer with the help of Liz and other friends is endearing and a bit heart wrenching.  

I would classify this as a drama, but it’s noted as Women’s Fiction which I found quite interesting because I didn’t know we had our own fiction:)

I found this story interesting on several levels.  One, as a look into the Quaker way of life, which although much more restrictive than what we are typically used to in this day and age, has many positive qualities and practices.  

Secondly, how life changing mistakes and misunderstandings  can happen when people are too quick to make judgements, assign blame, and try to seek retribution.  And how they can compound over time.

Thirdly, how people are ALL flawed, even those we respect.  Anyone can make choices that later become regrets.  And how support, and the right perspective can take a negative situation, and turn it into a positive future.  

The book is well written and the story engaging.  I did find that there were moments when the story lagged a bit for me (maybe that’s where the Women’s Fiction comes in), but Bahni’s narration carried me forward until I felt engaged again.  I highly recommend this book both for the classic writing and the intuitive narration.  

If this style of work interests you, you should really give this one a try.

And as always, from my ears to yours, Happy Listening!