Before Your Memory Fades – Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Published By: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 256
Released On: 01/09/2022

On the hillside of Mount Hakodate in northern Japan, Cafe Donna Donna is fabled for its dazzling views of Hakodate port. But that’s not all. Like the charming Tokyo cafe Funiculi Funicula, Cafe Donna Donna offers its customers the extraordinary experience of travelling through time.

From the author of Before the Coffee Gets Cold and Tales from the Cafe comes another story of four new customers, each of whom is hoping to take advantage of the cafe’s time-travelling offer. Among some familiar faces from Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s previous novels, readers will also be introduced to:

A daughter who begrudges her deceased parents for leaving her orphaned
A comedian who aches for his beloved and their shared dreams
A younger sister whose grief has become all-consuming
A young man who realizes his love for his childhood friend too late

Translated from Japanese by Geoffrey Trousselot and featuring signature heart-warming characters and wistful storytelling, in Before Your Memory Fades, Kawaguchi once again invites the reader to ask themselves: what would you change if you could travel back in time?


Thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

I really loved the first book in this series, Before the Coffee Gets Cold; the second, Tales From the Cafe, felt a little flat, a bit samey, but it’s such an interesting topic and full of heart, I was looking forward to reading this third addition.

Once again, it’s very samey, but this one is set in a different cafe to the first two, which gives it a slightly different feel in terms of location and characters,

All three books follow the same format: four stories, four people wanting to travel back in time. The rules of time travel are the same and there aren’t any twists or surprises or major differences. This third one is still good but I’m not sure it was needed, it didn’t add anything different, and I wonder whether it would have been better to condense the three books and 12 stories into one longer volume. That way you could fully invest in the characters and follow their journeys easier.

Having said all that, it still provides a moral discussion. If you could, would travel back (or forward) in time? Where, when and who would of visit? Would you still go if you knew it wouldn’t make any difference to your present?

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