While Lilian Darcy is an accomplished Romance author, “Café du Jour” is not a romance. It’s a serious introspective journey of self-discovery and self-actualization. No compromises are made to sweeten the reality of this story. Everything is just right out there in front of the reader. There are no genre constraints or expectations in "Cafe du Jour" -- just raw writing power.
“Café du Jour” does something bold and unique with the first person POV: it lets the reader become another person. This is very different in kind than vicariously ‘being there’ when the POV character is a fireman climbing a ladder to rescue a child. While the reader might feel what it is like to be a fireman in that situation, the reader will not really know much of what it would be like to actually be that fireman.
In “Café du Jour” the journey is mostly internal. The action happens in the consciousness of the main character. The outside world is important, as there is a story to follow, but the big difference in this novel happens when the reader becomes the POV character -- as a person. “Café du Jour” opens the mind of the POV character and lets the reader think her thoughts.
If the reader’s internal dialogue is the same as the POV character’s internal dialogue, then for that moment, there is an identity. The reader is not that person doing ‘x’, the reader is that person being that person. (I know this is a difficult concept but this awareness of being someone else by virtue of thinking their thought, will be forced upon you when you read this book. You just have to read it and experience it.)
What Could be so Interesting as to Keep a Reader Inside Someone Else’s Mind for Hours on End?
Before I read “Café du Jour”, I would have probably said, “nothing.” It was only after I was totally captivated by the POV character, Susie, that I became eager to spend time in her mind.
Here is what the heroine thinks of Jody:
Susie, the heroine, is a European trained chef now living at home in Australia. She is a chef in a resultant where the owner is exploiting her. Her live-in boyfriend, Jody, travels around the world being a ski instructor in the winter and doing odd jobs at other times. He also seems to be exploiting Susie and perhaps everyone else he deals with.
Karen is Susie’s sister who is in the hospital after a terrible disfiguring accident which may have left her mentally challenged. Susie is under great stress. She may be at the moment of maximum personal crises in her young life. All this makes for compelling reading.
Given the very personal nature of the first person POV, the impact of this emotional turmoil is almost overwhelming. In a way, “Café du Jour” is a learning experience that may well leave the reader a different person.