Thursday, 26 February 2015

Guest Book Review: Jenny Colgan - Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Summer has arrived in the Cornish town of Mount Polbearne and Polly Waterford couldn't be happier. Because Polly is in love: she's in love with the beautiful seaside town she calls home, she's in love with running the bakery on Beach Street, and she's in love with her boyfriend, Huckle. 

And yet there's something unsettling about the gentle summer breeze that's floating through town. Selina, recently widowed, hopes that moving to Mount Polbearne will ease her grief, but Polly has a secret that could destroy her friend's fragile recovery. Responsibilities that Huckle thought he'd left behind are back and Polly finds it hard to cope with his increasingly long periods of absence. 

Polly sifts flour, kneads dough and bakes bread, but nothing can calm the storm she knows is coming: is Polly about to lose everything she loves?

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

Jenny Colgan has successfully found her niche in women’s fiction and is sticking to it. Why change a formula that is working and is obviously satisfying her legions of fans (myself included) and attracting many more readers with each new release? Be it a story about a cupcake cafĂ©, sweet shop or seaside bakery these recent releases from Jenny have brought lots of pleasure, laughs and tears to many people.

 I admit to been disappointed by The Christmas Surprise released towards the end of 2014. It was the third book in the series and I felt it had really lost steam, the storyline didn’t know where to go and it wasn’t that Christmassy at all. So I was in two minds whether this follow up to last year’s release in the bakery series would fulfil my expectations. No sooner had I read the first chapter Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery had hooked me and I felt like I had reunited with old friends and just carried on where we had left off several months before.

I love how Jenny gives us a quick recap at the beginning of the book, not  too much detail just enough to fill in people who may not have read Little Beach Street Bakery so I can say with certainty this can easily be read as a stand-alone novel. It’s a sign of a talented author when you feel you are seamlessly guided back into the story and lives of the characters instantly and with this book it happened instantly for me. Polly Waterford is now happily ensconced in the lighthouse with her American boyfriend Huckle, and yes Neil the Puffin is back too. In fact he steals every scene he is in even though he can’t even speak. No wonder he will soon have a children’s book all to himself.

Jenny writes so vividly about the town of Mount Polbearne all alone on its rocky outcrop that you feel that you are right there with all the characters as they navigate the ups and downs of island life. It does really make you want to move there and live by the sea and experience life in a small town, although the descriptions of bad weather may give you second thoughts. Things are moving along nicely for Polly in both her personal and professional life but as with everything the path does not always run smooth and presents us with many challenges. With the death of Mrs. Manse (owner of the bakeries) arrives Malcom (her nephew) who wants to see a profit in the business and will use any means to achieve this so before she knows it Polly is out on her ear and replaced with wrapped bread bought in bulk that has a shelf life of years. This does not please the residents and Polly is left devastated but determined to forge on and achieve her dream of having a successful bakery in some form or another.

Polly and Huckle’s relationship has stepped up a gear in this book, it seems more real and serious and I really felt the love they had for one another. But the arrival of Huckle’s brother Dubose throws a spanner in the works and combined with the lack of income and Dubose not committing to his responsibilities Huckle is forced to return to America to earn some money and save the family farm in Georgia. Aside from the main plot we catch up with Reuben and Kerensa and Jayden and also a few new characters are thrown into the mix which all really added to the overall story. Polly is lost without her job and Huckle but she has to dust herself off and try again, as they say if at first you don’t succeed you try and try again. Does she start a new business or stay pining for Huckle? Does Huckle return and what of Neil does he continue to enamor the residents of Polbearne with his antics? Well to answer all these questions and plenty more you will have to pick up a copy of this book, as there were plenty of twists and turns that had me thoroughly engaged and lost in a lovely piece of storytelling. 

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery is a warm, feel good story with a real sense of community, friendship and support that leaves you with a satisfied, contended feeling when you finish the last chapter. It was just the book I needed to read after my previous book had a more darker, hard hitting theme. This wonderful book left me hoping there maybe room for even just one more story in the adventures of Polly, Neil and the residents of Polbearne. My fingers are crossed!

I'd like to thank Emma for reviewing this eBook which we received from the publisher via NetGalley.

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