Small Southern towns are usually described in two ways: quaint & tight-knit. Cedar Branch is no different. Everyone knows everyone & everyone eats at the Quaker Café. Although Quakers aren’t the only religion represented in Cedar Branch, they are a cornerstone of the community. However, the Methodist & Baptist churches in the community are quite prevalent. All three religions co-exist & for the most part, the town is at peace.
Unfortunately, there is a cloud over the town. Decades prior to the start of the story, a young black man had been lynched. A chasm had developed between the white & black communities & never healed. As we are introduced to the town, the plot centers around three women who are best friends & movers & shakers in the community. Maggie has just lost her father who passed away at his table in the Café. Judge Kendal had dedicated the majority of his life to repairing the rift between the residents. Unbeknownst to Maggie, the Judge’s death will become a huge spoon to mix up the melting pot. Secrets will be revealed & her father’s memory will be forever altered to Maggie.
Joining her is Liz. Marrying into a Quaker family was never easy. But, Liz has raised 4 sons in Cedar Branch. As the Judge’s funeral is planned & boats are rocked, Liz must serve as a root to hold her family & Maggie together. While trying to serve as a help to grieving Maggie, she must deal with a steadfast mother-in-law, rigid Quaker standards, & her son’s wedding. Everything she’s known is about to change & she’ll have to be a rock.
The final member of the trio is Billie. Fashionista Billie stays busy helping with anything needed. She’s the shoulder they lean on. Her often moody husband tries her patience but she puts everyone above herself. Knowing how much her friends need her, she pours her heart into helping Liz & Maggie.
Following these three women, we feel their strength, their integrity, & their pain. Family secrets are seldom pretty. But, how these ladies cope is truly extraordinary.
‘The Quaker Café ‘ is definitely not a quick, breezy read. Racial tensions, family drama, & health scares will strike a chord with readers as they beome deeply invested in the characters. Well-written & hard to put down, it is all things beautiful & ugly about people. Our author has invested a lot of time developing her characters & making all three heroines deep & meaningful. All three religions are given respect & portrayed with dignity, on equal footing. No bias is shown. That’s admirable.
In addition to the story of 3 devoted friends, there is mystery & historical fiction swirled into the plot. I’d love to see a sequel. I give it 5 stars.