Reviewed by Emma Crowley
Finding yourself without a home in the weeks before Christmas would break most people, but for Bridget Carrington it’s a chance to start again. Mulberry-On-Sea has always been her happy place and she’s hoping it can work its magic this festive season and heal her family after a difficult year.
Now, as the community wraps Bridget and her children in its warm embrace, she starts to feel like herself again. With a new business, kids who are starting to smile, and the promise of a second chance at love, Bridget’s holiday season might just be a happy ever after…
Many thanks to Harper Collins UK via NetGalley for my copy of A Cosy Christmas at Bridget’s Bicycle Bakery to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.
The excitement was real when earlier this year Alex Brown announced that her new book would return to Mulberry on Sea, the setting for her beloved Carrington’s series. Way back in 2013, the first Carrington’s book Cupcakes at Carrington’s was published and ever since then I have adored everything that Alex has written. It’s been a long, long wait but finally we return to the setting that cemented my love for this wonderful author’s work.
A Cosy Christmas at Bridget’s Bicycle Bakery is everything you want and more from a Christmas book and right from page one I felt instantly at home and I completely lost myself in the feel good story that unfolded. It’s a book that has you laughing on page one and for me that means I know I am going to love every minute of it and I certainly did. This book has such a gorgeous, whimsical Christmas cover that encapsulates the spirit of the story perfectly. It’s a book that makes you happy and transports you away to a magical place filled with warm and inviting characters that capture your heart and refuse to let go.
Bridget arrives in Mulberry on Sea a few weeks before Christmas with her 14 year olds twins Oscar and Olly and her six year old daughter Freya, oh and not forgetting the two guinea pigs and Henry the dog. Right from that first introduction detailing the hilarious car journey and subsequent arrival in the coastal town of Mulberry on Sea, famous for its Carrington’s department store, this story is packed full of humour and laugh out loud moments expertly balanced with the more emotional side of what Bridget is going through. This move is a big upheaval for Bridget’s family but it’s a necessary one. They have all been through the mill since the sudden and unexpected death of their beloved father Ted, just over a year ago. Now even though Bridget is still deep in mourning she knows she needs to focus on building a happy, stable future for herself and the children.
Bridget is exhausted from solo parenting. She feels as if she is making things up as she goes along and she would give anything at all to turn back time and have Ted by her side as they were such a great team and the love they had for each other was so deep and meant to be everlasting. They first met when she worked part-time in Carrington’s and now returning back to where it all began stirs up many memories for her. But she needs to put her best foot forward no matter how challenging this may seem and try and establish a new life for her family despite her anchor missing from her side. There is a quite fizz of excitement at stepping into a new chapter in her life but is she ready for the challenges coming her way? Her main goal is to put her family back together and to feel happier and cheerful. Will relocating to Mulberry on Sea allow her to achieve these aims?
Thanks to her in-laws she has a home to go to as financially things aren’t going that well for her. Arriving at their holiday home/beach house, which needs a little work and some tender care, amidst the sand dunes of Mulberry on Sea it’s pitch black and forgetting the key doesn’t have things getting off to a good start. Not to mention an unfortunate, cringeworthy but definitely funny introduction to local resident and bar man Jack, well things don’t go to plan for Bridget and her children. Bridget was such a fabulous character. You could identify with her feelings of grief and these words though few are so powerful is describing what it feel like. ‘Grief is love with nowhere to go’. This certainly made me stop and think. Bridget could have just curled up in a ball and stayed isolated at the beach house just doing enough to make it through each day but she knew she needed a purpose in life not to mention some money needed to start coming in or her children would not have the unfirms needed for their new school not to mention Christmas would be non-existent.
The beach setting seemed another world away from the town itself and I could easily visualise Bridget putting her plan into action which soon grew to something much more. She starts baking for her family and my god the descriptions were just mouth-watering and I was delighted to see some recipes included at the end. Sausage rolls, sourdough loaves, mice pies, gingerbread men to name just a few but it certainly made me really hungry whilst reading. Bridget bakes at nighttime as a way of trying to avoid the loneliness and having her mind drift back to darker times. Times she wishes to put behind her and emerge much stronger from. Soon she is on her bicycle to travel to town and spread some Christmas cheer distributing some of her bakes and this is what proves the turning point for her. Such a simple thing to do but it’s fuelling her passion. This is where the human side of the story really came into play as I loved reading of the people Bridget met as she went about her daily deliveries. Each had their story to share and in doing so Bridget herself was starting to heal and understand things. It was a simple but affective tool in helping Bridget to see that she was back where she belonged and needed to be and that with time she would be able to move forward and find harmony once she became settled and found her new rhythm. That the darkness would lift but Ted would always remain strong in her heart.
The entire book had a real sense of community about it, of working together when the town gets cut off due to ice on the road. Here is where Bridget’s little enterprise really starts to flourish and I loved the hustle and bustle of everything. How she is so busy she has no time to ponder and she finds herself at the heart of the community providing sustenance and help and in doing so she starts to make many friends. I loved her interactions with Jack as from their first meeting they really didn’t get off to a good start. They certainly rubbed each other up the wrong way and she finds him to be cocky and it’s like they start a tit for tat feud with lots of misunderstandings. It seems kind of obvious where this eventually might go but there is certainly long and bumpy road in store for them. I’m really keen to see how this will play out in the future.
A Cosy Christmas at Bridget’s Bicycle Bakery gave me everything I had hoped for and more from a book I have long waited to read. The characters and the picturesque setting - especially Bridget’s beach hut amidst the sand dunes - come alive off the page and you feel wrapped in their embrace. It’s feel-good fiction at it’s very best so much so that you’ll want to read it one sitting and to be honest I was completely gutted when it ended because I just wanted to read more and more. Thankfully there will be a follow up book coming in coming July 2022, A Summer Holiday at Bridget’s Bicycle Bakery. I most certainly will be ready and waiting and eager to read the next instalment in the life of Bridget and the residents of Mulberry on Sea. In the meantime, don’t let this magical, emotional and heart-warming story pass you by this Christmas season. It’s a sure fire winner from me.