I came a bit late to the Ali McNamara party, only discovering her novels a few years ago, but I've been hooked ever since. From time travel fun in Step Back in Time to movie star sightings in From Nothing Hill With Four Weddings... Actually, right down to the cute The Little Flower Shop by the Sea, I've devoured them all. And with a charming story and a magical realism twist I do believe that Letters From Lighthouse Cottage is Ali's best novel yet.
Sandybridge is a picturesque English seaside town. The perfect getaway destination for summer tourists, though perhaps not a hugely exciting place to grow up for a teenager. While helping out in her parents' antique place, Grace dreams of getting away from Sandybridge and exploring the world. She meets an unlikely companion who with his wisdom guides Grace into adulthood, making some questionable choices along the way but always with Grace's best interest at heart.
When Grace finally moves away from Sandybridge she cannot wait to explore the world and experience adventures. The town and her two best friends are never far from her mind, however, and continue to impact her life in unexpected ways. And with Sandybridge always lingering in the background Grace has to, for once and for all, decide what makes her happy: the place she grew up and has so much history, or the rest of the world, which is at her fingertips?
If you're familiar with Ali McNamara's fun novels you might be expecting movie stars and pop culture references galore, and while these were prominently featured in her other works, Letters From Lighthouse Cottage falls into a different category of commercial women's fiction which is all cute and twee (and I happen to adore). But rather than following this bookish trend to the dot, Ali has given her own spin to it with a touch of magical realism which elevated this novel to a whole new level of charming.
The advice that guides Grace from a teenager into adulthood came in a really unique form and I loved this aspect of the novel. It added a touch of otherworldly magic to it, which made it even easier for me to transport myself to Sandybridge and Grace's story each time I reopened the pages of the book. And while Sandybridge was perhaps not the ideal place to grow up for Grace, it was an absolute delight to read about. You don't have to leave the comfort of your own home to feel like you're on holiday this summer, just crack open the pages of this heartwarming book.
And I haven't even mentioned Charlie and Danny yet! They are two handsome young men growing into accomplished adults that have known Grace since she was a teenager. They provide almost as much heartbreak as they do loveliness to the pages of the novel, and Grace's life, and while the eventual conclusion to their stories was perhaps a bit predictable this didn't make the journey to getting there any less enjoyable (and there were plenty of unexpected bumps in the road along the way).
Letters From Lighthouse Cottage is as charming on the inside as it is on the outside. Starting Grace's story in the 1980s all the way through to the present time, not only does the reader get the change to see the characters grow up, experiencing the many highs and lows of life along the way, but it's fun to travel through the various decades covered in the novel too. And with the seaside backdrop to the story, this really is a rather perfect read for the summer holidays.
Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
Letters From Lighthouse Cottage is published by Sphere and you can buy the novel from Foyles or your own preferred retailer.
Connect with the authorWebsite: www.alimcnamara.co.uk