Review: Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Friday 9 January 2015
Title: Little Beach Street Bakery
Author: Jenny Colgan
Publisher: Sphere
Publication Date: 13th March 2014
Pages: 464
Source: Purchased (Kindle)
Rating: 4.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Polly Waterford is recovering from a toxic relationship. Unable to afford their flat, she has to move miles away from everyone, to a sleepy little seaside resort in Cornwall, 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.

You might read the blurb to Jenny Colgan's Little Beach Street Bakery and think to yourself that it sounds a little bit similar to a few of her previous books, and it does. Because Jenny, and authors like her, have struck upon a very successful formula that readers love. A woman, down on her luck, with a horrible boyfriend, moves away from home, inherits/buys a dilapidated/unsuccessful building/business, turns it into a major success and (probably) falls in love before the final chapter. From Jenny we have visited a warm and welcoming cupcake cafe, a mouth-watering chocolate shop in Paris, the most perfect little sweetshop and village that ever existed and now we have the Little Beach Street Bakery. If you asked me to choose a favourite, I wouldn't be able to. (Okay, it's Rosie Hopkins but shh).

Polly Waterford comes a very close second to Rosie Hopkins however - and it'll be when I finish Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery that I'll decide on a favourite! - and she's definitely one of the best characters I have had the pleasure of reading about in a Women's Fiction book. After a slow build-up - I really just want to move the story past the boring 'it's over, I'm moving away' bit and settle in to the new setting our character is about to discover - Polly moves to a sleepy little seaside resort in Cornwall and I don't know how Jenny does it but I want to live in all of her books that I have read as they are all just so perfectly created. Jenny's books are pure escapism, a total pick-me-up for those miserable days we all suffer from, especially in Winter (when I read this)! By the end of this book I wanted to move to Polbearne.

In the beginning however Polbearne wasn't exactly described as this picturesque, perfect little village. If anything it felt almost like the opening to a horror story, it's a tidal island meaning the residents can only leave (and arrive) at certain hours of the day, and the flat that Polly moves into, well, it's unloved... The estate agent has to use his iPhone flashlight to locate a light switch and it's just got a feeling of abandonment about the place. If anybody can bring it back to life though it's Polly. Polly has a really infectious personality, and a real get up and go attitude. Rather than sit and wallow she actually does something to change her life, and whilst she realises it won't be easy, she makes some difficult decisions and ultimately sets about changing her life for the better. Bankruptcy has led her to Polbearne, which her best friend Kerensa thinks is insane (well, I thought Kerensa was insane and I couldn't stand her for most of the book but she does redeem herself as it goes on) whilst her boyfriend Chris moves back in with his mother. As is usual with the boyfriend the main character ends up leaving, he is portrayed as a bit of a drip/idiot although later in the book he does something rather touching which made me like him a bit more.

Polly is welcomed by the locals, who fall in love with her baking skills however when she catches the eye of the local 'baker' (who actually buys most of her products in, most of which is disgusting), they come to blows to say the least. Mrs Manse (think Miss Trunchbull) is quite a nasty character in the beginning, but as with most battleaxes she does have a softer side and a history which is revealed as the book progresses. This whole opening does of course make the eventual transformation all the more worth it. It's almost like as Polly finds herself again through bread, it gives both the village and the building a whole new lease of life, and Polly herself a whole new lease of life. Baking bread is quite cathartic for Polly, and I could totally relate with the joy she found in it as it's the same joy I find through books, that escapism that takes you away from the dreariness of everyday life. Along the way Polly also catches the eye of a couple of local men (and one not so local). What I liked was the romance here never felt forced, it all felt very natural and real.

There's so much I could say about this book but the best thing I can say is read it. It's probably one of Jenny's best books yet and certainly one of her most romantic (with a fabulous ending) but also one of her more emotional ones. Jenny's books looking at their covers probably don't give away that her books do often touch on some emotive subjects, and there's a couple of events that happen in this book that I wasn't expecting and which almost left me a bit teary! And that's one of the things I love about Jenny's books, it's almost always obvious how the characters will end up in the book, but what isn't obvious is the journey they will go on throughout the book and the obstacles Jenny will place in their way. I am absolutely thrilled to already have a copy of Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery and will be starting it straightaway. I imagine most people will have read this book by now but if you are one of the few that haven't, what are you waiting for? Jenny is one of the best authors in the business and this book is a prime example of why she is. Don't miss it! Oh! And I can't believe I almost forgot to mention it: I want a puffin!


No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive

Copyright © 2014 Book Addict Shaun
Template by These Paper Hearts