The Ozone Cafe
Publisher: Adelaide Books
In The Ozone Café, Helen Hagemann delivers a vision of 1960s and ’70s life in a small NSW Central Coast town, her lens a waterfront café. The novel is an homage to a café of the same name and distinctive design that existed in the author’s hometown of Ettalong, but the characters who flesh out her story are fictional.
The narrative follows the fortunes of the café’s three successive owners. Vincenzo and Rennie, from Italy, acquire the land and build the café. They remain central, along with Vincenzo’s go-getting offsider Winifred, who readers see grow from girl to young woman.
Despite the pervading allusions to corruption and violence, this is on balance a gentle story celebrating humble people. It opens a window to the trials and triumphs of immigrants to this country in the post-war era and explores the value of art and aesthetics.