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Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite
Harlandsville is a small town close to the Trans-Canadian Highway, which has seen its industry and a good percentage of its population depart for richer pastures. What remains by the crossroads at the center of town is a gas station, a Chinese restaurant and Le Café. Live From The Café, a novel by Tory Gates, follows the lives of the owners, Luc and Emily, and their small-town clientele. The café was previously a pub which had ceased trading, leaving a dilapidated building brought back to life by Luc and Emily who have strong views about their new enterprise. All find a comfortable and welcoming haven at this somewhat eccentric oasis. Luc and Emily take a keen interest in their customers and are always ready to lend an ear to a troubled patron.
This friendly, easy atmosphere, along with the excellent coffee and open mic sessions, gives the café a special place at the heart of the community. Brought to life by the author’s clear-eyed narrative, the lives of the individual customers unfold; from the history of the owners, the troubled times of the man who can see his livelihood disappearing, the sexual awakening of some of the young girls, the still-prevalent prejudice against the native population, and the insidious penetration of drugs as the dealers branch out from the big cities. All are handled with gentle care by an experienced novelist.
Live From The Café is perhaps an idealistic look at small-town life. Well-written in a calm, unhurried style, Tory Gates manages to bring to life a haven surrounded by a troubled world, a rare place of community and genuine friendship which is treasured by all those who come into contact with it. The characters are engaging, solid and well-drawn, the descriptions are presented with vivid realism. I enjoyed the book and found the feeling of caring, friendship, and community that it conveyed heart-warming and uplifting. Tory Gates is a talented author and this book is a worthy addition to his published works.