The Plumberry School of Comfort Food is Cathy Bramley's fifth novel, following on from Conditional Love, Ivy Lane, Appleby Farm and Wickham Hall. It's crazy to realise that her first book was published only in 2013 and she's written so many more since. And they get bigger too, so every time there are a few more pages for her readers to relish and enjoy. Her latest release is jam-packed with heartwarming and heartbreaking moments, like we've come to know and love from Cathy, with some sweet surprises woven in as well.
Verity Bloom is unlucky in love. Conned out of her job by the man she trusted she needs a break from her high-powered London life. So when her old friend Gloria, mother to Verity's late best friend Mimi, rings up asking for a temporary helping hand with the launch of her cookery school in the village of Plumberry, the phone call couldn't have come at a better time. Verity has packed her bags before Gloria can say val-au-vents, and makes her way to Plumberry to work her marketing magic on her friend's cookery school.
However, what Verity hadn't counted on was quite how hands-on the job would be. Or how infuriating the chef she has to work with on a day-to-day basis. And that's before something happens that means Verity has to jump in to teach some of the classes on top of taking on all marketing responsibilities. With romance brewing from different angles, a TV-crew challenging them to do the impossible, hilarity, heartbreak and a whole new business to launch, Verity and team at The Plumberry School of Comfort Food are constantly run off their feet – but they love every second of it.
I feel like I've become a bit of a broken record when it comes to Cathy Bramley because each and every one of her books is an utter delight. Filled with wonderful characters and locations (and scrumptious food often too, especially in this novel) they're the perfect escapism reads from the stress and drag of every day. And despite being doused in all things cosy and lovely, they are also very much rooted in reality with genuine moments of connection and heart-breaking situations that make her characters even more likeable and interesting to read about. Every time a new Caathy Bramley novel is released it goes straight to the top of my to-read pile, even if there are dozens of other books patiently awaiting to be read as well. She's a firm favourite, that one.
And with the The Plumberry School of Comfort Food she has done it again. The locations within Cathy's novels are always immensely vivid and enticing, and in her latest book she's taken it one step further by not focusing on a single place, the cookery school, but creating an entire village and the sense of community that accompanies the picturesque English countryside. It reminded me of Tindledale from Alex Brown's novels and I loved everything about it. This is a setting with endless possibilities and even if we might not return to the main characters of this novel, Cathy usually conjures up an entirely new cast of characters for each of her novels, I do hope we get the chance to return to Plumberry and meet some of the other villagers along the way. Reading about this idyllic, foodie heaven meant that even though I don't have any holidays this summer, I still felt like I was away for the weekend and explored a cute English town.
Verity was the perfect protagonist, not only does she have an adorable name, but she was likeable, kind yet burdened with a whole bunch of baggage as well, which kept her interesting to read about from start to finish. And the fact that there are two very handsome men in the picture didn't hurt either, of course! I also loved Mags, Pixie, Rosie and Gloria, but I especially want to give a mention to Verity's best friend Mimi. Despite the fact that as a reader you only ever learn about Mimi through the other characters' stories and memories, as Mimi died several years prior to the start of this novel, she feels like a big part of the story and she always lingering around the edges of the scenes, which a was beautiful testimony of her friendship with Verity.
The Plumberry School of Comfort Food follows the Cathy Bramley recipe for a delightful read to the dot; an idyllic location, lovely characters, heartwarming moments, and heartbreaking ones, and most of all a fantastic story doused in romance, character growth, friendship and family. It's the perfect recipe for a summer read. And if you love The Great British Bake Off for the innuendos then this is absolutely the novel for you too!
Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
The Plumberry School of Comfort Food is published by Corgi and you can buy the novel from Foyles or your own preferred retailer.
Connect with the authorWebsite: www.cathybramley.co.uk