Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Book review: Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan


My edition: Paperback, to be published on 13th March 2014 by Sphere, 464 pages.

Description: Polly Waterford is recovering from a toxic relationship. Unable to afford their townhouse, she has to move miles away from everyone, to the sleepy little seaside resort of Polbearne, where she lives alone above an abandoned shop.

And so Polly takes out her frustrations on her favourite hobby: making bread. But what was previously a weekend diversion suddenly becomes far more important as she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, and each loaf becomes better and better. With nuts and seeds, olives and chorizo, with local honey (courtesy of local bee keeper, Huckle), and with reserves of determination and creativity Polly never knew she had, she bakes and bakes and bakes... And people start to hear about it.

Sometimes, bread really is life... And Polly is about to reclaim hers.

Rating:



There are only a few authors whose books immediately go on my to-read list as soon as a new one is announced but Jenny Colgan's definitely fall in that special category. Ever since I read Meet Me At the Cupcake Café in 2011 (eternal gratitude goes to the friend who lent me the book) she's been one of my favourite authors and a new book cannot be released soon enough. She has a flair for delightful escapism stories which perfectly balance romance, heart-warming characters, a healthy dose of drama and scrumptious recipes. This winning formula could become repetitive or predictable after a while, but she always manages to give her readers something completely fresh yet retaining the essence of what makes her novels such lovely and delectable reads.

Little Beach Street Bakery is the story of Polly Waterford, who has to start over after her company goes bankrupt and her relationship falls apart as a result of the added stress and money worries. With no job and her house on the market to pay off debt, Polly is at a cross-roads; struggle on in the city or find somewhere more affordable to live. In her search she come across Mount Polearne, a little-known island of the coast of Cornwall. The rickety house she views there is barely liveable, with holes in the roof and a thick layer of grime covering the interior, and the village lacks transport links and modern amenities, yet there's a certain rustic charm which appeals immensely to Polly. Making the place liveable after years of neglect while battling unfriendly islanders, terrifying storms and ongoing money worries make for a stressful start to her new life, but they're balanced by a rekindled love for bread baking, a blossoming romance and an unlikely companion in the form of a small puffin, Neil.

I felt a sense of nostalgia reading the novel as many elements within reminded me of my first author love: Enid Blyton. It had particular strong elements of the Adventure Series; set on an island, a character named Polly and even puffins played a part in those stories too. Blyton also had a flair for describing seemingly simplistic yet ultimately very appealing food, such as fresh bread, cheeses and honey - just like Colgan does. Of course Little Beach Street Bakery was more intricate and layered than the children's books I devoured when I was younger, but it had the same core ingredients which had me so hooked to Blyton's work - with an added dose of handsome men.

My own nostalgia aside, this was such a wonderful read and ticked all the boxes of what I was hoping for in a Colgan novel; a charming and inviting story filled with likeable characters and scrumptious baked goods, which are described so vividly that they made me hungry just reading about them. Cupcake Café had a wealth of sugary treats, Rosie Hopkins made the reader reminisce about old-fashioned sweets and Little Beach Street Bakery makes mouths water with lush descriptions of different types of bread and organic produce as main character Polly loses herself in the cathartic process of kneading bread and creating new flavours with edible delights she comes across on the island. Gosh, I'm rambling about food without really saying what I think of the book...

In short: I loved this SO MUCH. It was an utterly delightful read and I wish I could give it more than the five stars I've currently awarded it. Being a fan of Colgan's writing my expectations could've easily been too high, setting me up for an inevitable disappointment, but she surpassed herself once more. I simply loved everything about the novel, from Polly's passion for baking bread to the incredibly adorable Neil who made me want a puffin of my very own to befriend. I was also gripped tight by the story, which took some surprising twists and turns towards the end, and I stayed up far too late on a work day so I could finish the book on the same day I'd started it.

Heart-warming and romantic yet also surprising and poignant at times, Little Beach Street Bakery is the ultimate feel-good novel and I cannot recommend it highly enough. So pre-order the novel now from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com, or head into the shops on Thursday to pick up a copy on publication day.



Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with her online at:

Website: www.jennycolgan.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jennycolganbooks

Twitter: @jennycolgan


Many thanks to the publisher for an advance copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

2 comments:

  1. I absolutely loved this book such a typical Colgan write and just heart warming. Really makes you want to just bake and fall in love by the sea!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Fay! Glad to hear you loved the book so much as well. I too want to bake and fall in love by the sea. Plus I'd love to have a puffin as well ;)

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