''Don't wait for the storm to pass; learn to dance in the rain…' Laura has been married to the man of her dreams for seven months. But a week before the wedding, Matthew made a terrible mistake. Escaping the humiliation that is now her marriage, Laura is whisked off to Florida's Key West by her best friend Marty. A carefree holiday full of cocktails and fun, surrounded by gorgeous, tanned men, is exactly what the doctor ordered. Distraction comes in the form of sexy Cuban scuba diver Leo. Laura's instant attraction to him knocks her flying, and she falls hard. As the end of the holiday approaches, Laura doesn't want to go home. Is it time to face the music? Or is there more to Key West than a holiday romance?'
Laura’s only been married for seven months, but already her marriage is seriously on the rocks. She discovered that a week before their wedding, whilst on his stag do, her husband, Matthew, made a terrible mistake, one which will impact upon both of them for the rest of their lives.
Heartbroken, Laura flees to Florida’s Key West with her friends, but things get complicated when Laura falls for Leo, a Cuban who spends his summers at the Keys driving a boat for scuba diving. But Laura can’t hide forever, and knows at some point she’s going to have to return home and face Matthew and their problems.
Paige’s writing is extremely readable, and I find I very quickly become engrossed by her stories. I really like her use of more diverse settings, and reading about the Florida Keys was interesting as it’s not an area I knew much about. I bet she has a great time researching her books!
The beginning of this story was a little too much like an 18-30 holiday for my taste, but this soon changed once Leo came on the scene. Leo himself was a funny old character, he certainly redeems himself towards the end of the novel, but he’s a grumpy so-and-so most of the time! I also didn’t really like the fact that he had so little ambition and spent most of his time drinking in the garden, or sleeping. He was pretty sexy though, and he does the whole
dark and brooding thing very well!
I really felt for Laura and her predicament, particularly during the first half of the book, but I did feel that she could have been a bit firmer with Matthew at times! The scenes of her scuba-diving her very well written, and extremely evocative – they made me really want to have a go myself!
Oh, I do get excited when it’s that time of the year when Paige’s new novel is published! I really like the way Toon connects her novels. Not least because it gives me a chance to catch up with what’s going on with some of my favourite previous Toon characters as she hides little updates on them in each of her books! I was thrilled to discover Laura was Will Trust’s ex-fiance (Will Trust was a racing driver in Toon’s novel ‘Chasing Daisy’).
Fans of Toon’s writing will certainly not be disappointed with ‘The Longest Holiday’. A summer read with plenty of bite, Paige is a consistently very good writer. Her books never, ever disappoint and are great escapism for when you need an extra special treat!
'The hilarious and heart-warming second in the series from the author of The Wedding Diaries. "I'd be sick right now, but I never like to reinforce a cliche." A few weeks after Kiki and Thom return from honeymoon, Kiki finds there's a noticeable absence. An extremely serious noticeable absence of something, it turns out, Kiki now realises she was pretty glad about. One pregnancy test later, Kiki's breaking the "good news" (Thom: Wow. We're so...Edwardian.) and rewriting all the plans she'd made before. With an ever-expanding waistline, her nightmare childhood "friend" Annie pregnant too, all the problem authors at Polka Dot Books she could (not) wish for and an army of NW London's Smug Mothers to deal with, these nine months might not be the nine months of blooming relaxation she'd been promised...'
‘The Baby Diaries’ is the sequel to Binnie’s ‘The Wedding Diaries’, which was published last year.
The story begins with Kiki, who works in publishing and lives with her new husband, Thom, discovering she’s pregnant. The news comes as a bit of a surprise, particularly as Kiki has only just been given a promotion at work. Following Kiki throughout her pregnancy, the birth of her baby, and until
she’s almost ready to return to work when the baby is six months old,‘The Baby Diaries’ is a very funny, and very honest, look at modern motherhood.
The book is told in the form of Kiki’s diary, which worked very well for me. The light, informal tone suited the style of the novel, and I got to know Kiki well. The fact that she’s often confiding things that she might not tell anyone else lends a lovely slightly secretive air to the narrative at times. Her lists at the end of her diary entries are a lovey addition.
Kiki and Thom are a great couple, they work well together and I love their combined sense of humour. Thom is brilliantly supportive of Kiki, but is a voice of reason when she has some of her more hormone-fuelled moments! I
imagine quite a few readers will have developed quite a crush on Thom by the
time they finish the novel!
Kiki’s friends and family form a fairly big supportive cast, which was a little confusing until I got everyone straight in my head! I particularly liked Kiki’s sister with her no-nonsense air, and Jacki, Kiki’s super-glamorous celebrity friend.
I enjoyed this outing with Kiki more than ‘The Wedding Diaries’ – possibly because there’s just so many jokes that can be made out of pregnancy,
labour and babies! I especially relished the sections where Kiki attends the
ante-natal and post-natal classes – they were absolutely hilarious, and so true to life in so many ways. ‘The Baby Diaries’ would make an excellent gift for anyone expecting their first child, so many of Kiki’s fears are those experienced by almost everyone - it’ll have you giggling all the way to the labour ward.
‘What happens when the one that got away comes back? Find out in this sparkling debut from Mhairi McFarlane. 'Think of the great duos of history. We're just like them.' 'You mean like Kylie and Jason? Torvill and Dean? Sonny and Cher?' 'I think you've missed the point, Rachel.' Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart. It's been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away. They'd been partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on: Ben is married. Rachel is not. Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she's never been able to mend. Hilarious, heartbreaking and everything in between, you'll be hooked from their first 'hello'.’
Though inseparable at university, best friends Rachel and Ben haven’t seen each other for years and things have certainly changed a lot for both of them since their student days; most importantly, Ben is now married. When the pair meet up again, old feelings immediately re-emerge and Rachel soon realises that, try as she might, she’s yet to mend the broken heart Ben left her with.
I liked the flashbacks to Rachel’s university days, and the fact that these were spaced out throughout the novel worked really well for me. The truth about Rachel and Ben’s past was uncovered slowly, which meant that I got a chance to know the characters well and understand how they managed to get in the
mess they did!
Rachel was a very likeable heroine, and I warmed to her immediately. I really sympathised with her at the beginning of the book when she breaks up with her fiancé, and I thought their whole relationship was dealt with very well throughout the novel – there were several points where I didn’t know whether they’d get back together again or not. I wasn’t quite so sure about Ben as a protagonist – he came across as a bit of a wimp at times, never going for what he wants, and when he does stand up for something he appears to regret it straight afterwards.
There’s a fair amount of comedy within the story, and the book did make me laugh several times: I particularly liked the scenes between Rachel and her friends, who were a great bunch of characters and played off each other well and with very amusing results.
The resolution to Rachel and Ben’s dilemmas came together a little too quickly at the end of the book for my liking; particularly as Ben had seemed very set on a certain course of action only a few pages before. In fact I found it a bit
of a let-down after all the build-up, and their conclusion wasn’t as satisfying
as I’d hoped it would be.
Rachel and Ben’s story kept me interested and turning the pages, although I was a little disappointed by the novel’s final chapters. McFarlane’s writing style was fresh and enjoyable, and ‘You Had Me At Hello’ is certainly a
promising debut. I look forward to seeing what this author produces next.
3 and a half stars
‘Starter: If twenty-six-year-old Hannah Sugarman had her way, she'd be whipping up carrot cakes and running her culinary empire. Instead, she spends her hours cooking up papers on the financial crisis. It doesn't help that no one in her life takes her passion seriously - not even her boyfriend. Main: When her relationship implodes, Hannah decides to jump-start her life by hosting a secret supper club out of her landlord's flat. Her underground operation presents some problems. Running an unlicensed restaurant out of someone's home is not, technically speaking, legal. Dessert: As the success of Hannah's supper club grows, so do the number of secrets she is forced to keep. Can Hannah keep her pop-up restaurant underground? When mysterious guests turn up for dinner, can she handle the heat? Or will she have to step out of the kitchen? A charming romantic comedy, "The Secret Supper Club" is a story about finding yourself, fulfilling your dreams, and falling in love along the way.’
Hannah Sugarman dreams of setting up her own secret supper club, but listens to her boyfriend and parents when they tell her to forget about her passion for cooking and concentrate on her future academic career. However, when Hannah’s relationship ends, she decides to take the plunge and put her cooking skills to the test by hosting a supper club in her new basement apartment. When events conspire to make this impossible, Hannah decides to take advantage of her landlord being away, and uses his house to entertain her guests.
This first evening proves to be a huge success, and Hannah is inundated with people wanting to sample her cooking. Before long she’s secretly using her landlord’s home regularly and things are getting out of hand, especially when Hannah gets to know him and the pair form a friendship. Because Hannah’s secret will come out sooner or later, and the one thing she can be sure of is that her landlord will not be impressed when he learns his house has been used for an unlicensed, and therefore illegal, restaurant.
Hannah was a great heroine – she was a complete individual, but one who had found herself in a job that was completely wrong for her. She’d allowed herself to be slightly railroaded by her parents who are sure they know what’s best for her. Using her landlord’s house to host her supper clubs was obviously wrong, but it wasn’t such a terrible crime that it put me off Hannah at all. She worried about it enough that it was clear she really was a decent person.
By contrast, Hannah’s work colleague, Millie, made a fantastic villainess: she was just horrible and I couldn’t wait for her to receive her come-uppance!
Something that really stood out for me when reading this tale was the author’s obvious affection for Washington DC: her descriptions of the various neighbourhoods, markets and buildings were charming, and really added to my enjoyment of the book. DC made a nice city setting, and a welcome change from New York.
Food plays a huge role in the novel, and I really liked this. There’s a nice selection of recipes at the end of the book, I’ll definitely be making the carrot cake at the earliest opportunity. I particularly enjoyed learning more about some traditionally Jewish food, which I don’t have much knowledge of, but have always been interested in.
‘The Secret Supper Club’ is one of the best debuts I’ve read in recent years. Hannah was an engaging and likable heroine, who I loved reading about, and her situation kept me completely enthralled. I can’t wait to see what Bate produces next.
4 and a half stars
‘Hannah's getting married...and has serious pre-wedding jitters. She adores Ryan but can't figure out how to fit into his grown-up, family-sized life. There's that fridge, for starters. That, too, is family-sized, with a gadget on the front that spits ice in her face. More alarming still are Ryan's children, Daisy, 10 and Josh, 13, who clearly don't relish the prospect of Hannah, a free-spirited greetings card illustrator, becoming their step-mum. So she fires off invitations to a hen weekend - just the ticket to get her into the marrying mood. Trouble is...New mum Sadie is leaving her twin babies for the very first time with their terrified dad...Lou is unaware that her long-term man Spike is desperate to bundle her onto that Glasgow-bound train so he can hot-foot it round to see his secret fling Miranda...And, unbeknown to the girls, Johnny, their sexy upstairs neighbour from their art college days, is still frequenting those haunts, desperately in need of a little magic to happen.’
Hannah is determined to get together with her two best pals, Sadie and Lou, for her Hen Party. Terrified she’s doing the wrong thing marrying her fiancé Ryan, Hannah needs her old friends’ advice more than ever. However, as much as Lou and Sadie would love to meet up, their busy lives mean it’s not easy to give up a weekend to traipse up to the chosen venue of York, where the three women lived together as students. For Sadie, the trip will mean leaving her twin baby boys overnight for the first time, whereas for Lou, the problem is more practical: she’s completely broke.
Despite these obstacles, the three friends are resolved to get away, make the most of some time together, and recapture some of the fun from their happy and carefree student days. But will a reminder of the past put them off what they have in the present?
The absolute highlight of this novel for me was Lou’s boyfriend, Spike: he was awful to Lou, and a fairly useless human being, but he was just pure comedy! He was so pathetic in parts that I, unbelievably, found myself feeling a little sorry for him. I was a tiny bit disappointed by Spike’s ending; it wasn’t quite the big bang that I was expecting.
I liked all the heroines, and empathised with their situations, particularly poor Hannah with her horrible future step-children. None of the women were perfect, but this only served to make them seem more human and likeable. I was willing them to makes the right decisions at the end. Although quite different, they worked well together as a group and made very entertaining reading.
Happily the male characters were just as engaging as the female, and provided a lot of the laughs in this tale. As well as Spike, Sadie’s husband coping by himself with their twins was very entertaining, particularly when he’s joined by his child-free friend who’s intent upon using the babies to attract as much female attention as possible.
‘The Great Escape’ was a nice story of friendship, and how life can sometimes lead us in unexpected directions, and may need a little nudge to get us back on track if we’ve lost sight of what’s really important. Although I’ve been aware of Fiona Gibson’s books before, this has been my first opportunity to read one. It was the fun, light and often humorous read I was expecting, and I’ll be looking out for Gibson’s titles in the future.
3 and a half stars
‘Amy has enjoyed a charmed life, shopping and lunching while the nanny looks after her children. Until her world is thrown into disarray when husband Ben's business collapses overnight, taking their house and savings with it. Suddenly Amy finds herself the breadwinner. Can she rise to the challenge? Will her marriage survive such an upheaval? Or is it a case of 'Till Debt Do Us Part'? Kate has always had to struggle by, juggling her job with two children and a husband, though she wouldn't have it any other way. But her safe little world is rocked when she meets enigmatic Jack in a chance encounter. Feeling increasingly estranged from husband Miles, Kate wonders if Jack can offer her a fresh start. But there's something about Jack that Kate doesn't know...Jennifer is only just beginning to recover from the death of her own husband. When Jennifer makes contact with old flame Hugh she unlocks a dangerous Pandora's box. She is desperate to find the answer to a question that has tormented her for decades. But will she be able to cope with the truth?’
Widowed Jennifer is finally ready to build more of a social life for herself, and begins meeting up with an old boyfriend. Worried what her grown-up daughters, Amy and Kate, will think of her behaviour, Jennifer keeps her relationship secret. However, it turns out her children have more than enough troubles of their own to deal with without interfering in their mother’s love life: Amy’s husband’s business has collapsed, losing them their house and all their savings as well as the many luxuries which Amy and her children have become used to. Meanwhile Kate is feeling unappreciated by her husband as she struggles to run a home, care for the kids, and work as a nurse. When she meets handsome Jack, Kate wonders if he’s the fresh start she needs.
‘IOU’ begins with a very intriguing prologue that drew me straight into the heart of the tale. I soon found that I could easily connect with each of the protagonists, and enjoyed reading about them. I thought the relations between the women were very honestly dealt with: they really aren’t the closest of families, despite loving each other very much. It was great to see them coming together and supporting one another when they needed it.
I felt a little sorry for Amy being a bit of the odd one out because Kate and her mother live near to one another. I also thought that Kate and Jennifer were quite judgmental towards Amy at times, and didn’t really give her the benefit of being a grown woman and knowing what she wants. At the beginning of the novel at least, Kate is more than a little jealous of her sister, but it’s not Amy’s fault that she’s got money, and it’s not like she’s not generous with it!
Amy was definitely my favourite character as I really enjoyed seeing her come into her own whilst her husband, who’s always been the strong one in the relationship, was falling apart. She ends up being far more capable than her family could have imagined.
‘IOU’ seemed a much meatier novel than Warner’s debut ‘RSVP’: it dealt with several serious issues and did so pretty well I thought. Overall, I enjoyed it, particularly the parts relating to Amy, whom I ended up really liking. The relations between the three heroines were thought-provoking and compelling, and the author’s easy to read style meant that I was swept up in the story very quickly and the novel kept me interested throughout.
3 and a half stars
‘The first in a brand new series introduces Kiki Carlow, a woman on a mission to create her perfect wedding. Kiki Carlow is shocked but delighted when boyfriend Thom proposes. Planning a wedding is easy, right? That's as long as you ignore: 1. The utterly bankrupting price of the only dress you'll ever truly love. 2. Your suddenly pregnant sister - surprise! 3. The celebrity wedding you're covering for work which is devouring your every waking thought. 4. The Mother of the Bride. Entirely. Kiki soon discovers that planning the perfect wedding might just bring total chaos to the rest of her life. Can she stop being a Bridezilla in time to marry the man she loves? Heart-warming and hilarious, The Wedding Diaries will make you laugh, cry, and want to watch Bridesmaids all over again...’
Told completely in diary form, ‘The Wedding Diaries’ is the first in a series of books by new author Sam Binnie. It follows the trials and tribulations of Kiki Carlow, who’s planning her wedding to her fiancé Thom. Kiki decides to keep a diary to help with the details of planning the big day. However, she soon discovers that organising the most important day of her and Thom’s life together isn’t anything like the fun and romantic endeavour she first thought it to be. As the preparations start taking over Kiki’s life and costing her a fortune, can she find a way to pull things together without destroying her relationship and her bank balance?
The characters were surprisingly well-developed for a story told in diary entries, and Kiki was likeable and fun to read about; I particularly enjoyed the scenes involving her and her sister, who I really wanted to see more of. My favourite part of the book has got to be the horrific hen weekend that Kiki attends - I was cringing for poor Kiki, but thoroughly enjoying the mayhem!
Binnie manages to tread the fine line with Kiki’s wedding plans of having her heroine be a little demanding and unreasonable about her nuptials, without coming across as completely spoilt. I could understand why Thom becomes exasperated, but nothing that Kiki does is so bad that she can’t be forgiven and allowed the chance to make everything right.
One nice touch was the addition of ‘To Do’ lists at the end of the entries; these were very funny and gave a lovely insight into just how crazy Kiki’s wedding preparations are making her! At the end of the book there’s a little preview of ‘The Baby Diaries’ (the next instalment in the series) and a section on wedding advice. Personally, I would have rather the book had been longer than had these extras, which seemed a little unnecessary.
The sort of novel to have you giggling quietly to yourself in a crowded train carriage, ‘The Wedding Diaries’ is an entertaining and amusing, if extremely light, read. I get the feeling that Binnie is aiming to create a slightly hopeless, but immensely lovable Becky Brandon-esque character, following hot on the heels of Sophie Kinsella’s huge success. She’s clearly hoping that Kiki will keep bringing the readers back for the sequels. For me, ‘The Wedding Diaries’ was enjoyable, but was certainly not in the same league as Sophie Kinsella, and whilst I’ll happily read the next instalment in Kiki’s life, I won’t necessarily be looking out for it in bookshops.
3 and a half stars
'If you’ve ever dreamt of a new life in the country, this highly entertaining and candid account of country living might make you think again… Fresh air, rolling fields, Cath Kidston tea towels and home-baked cake – isn’t that what Martha’s new life will be?
Apparently not. Having upped sticks and moved her young family from the gritty city to Paradise, she discovers things aren’t quite that easy. Collapsing kitchen ceilings; a plague of slugs; coffee mornings with Stepford mums and garden warfare with the neighbours are just a few of the trials. And with her husband away working in London, Martha just can’t stop thinking about the sexy builder who’s meant to be turning the house into her dream home…'
Daisy Waugh’s name has often cropped up when I’m shopping for books, but for some unknown reason, it’s taken me until now to actually buy one and read it.
The ‘Country Housewife’ of the title is Martha: a writer from London who decides that it’s time for her family to escape the city so that her children can breathe clean air and pick blackberries. She and her husband quickly find the perfect house in Paradise, sell their home in London, and settle into country living. However, Martha quickly learns that she doesn’t like the country very much: their new dog keeps trying to escape, she can’t make any friends, and their perfect house is actually falling apart. And worst of all, Martha finds her husband becoming ever more absent; always with an excuse to stay in London for work, rather than face the long commute home. Martha’s time is spent fantasising about her builder and missing her friends and husband, rather than enjoying her new life. Can Martha, and her marriage, survive her decision to move to Paradise?
Martha’s story is told through her diary entries and the newspaper columns she writes about her life in the country. The diary is very personal and obviously a great way to get the reader to really understand and connect with Martha. The newspaper column provided a very interesting contrast: it not only served to move the story forward, but also showed us how Martha would present her problems to an outsider. The column becomes more honest as Martha’s problems become bigger and she finds it harder to cope with them.
What really sets this book apart from others of its type is now witty Daisy Waugh’s writing style is; there were points when I was laughing out loud. I also enjoyed how flawed Martha is as a person, and how it’s these flaws that lead her into the mess that end up in. There were points when I became really infuriated with the main character and her decisions, but I guess that’s one of the things that meant that those pages kept on turning: I just had to know what she was going to do next. Whether or not you agree with Martha’s decisions and actions, they make a very good story.
I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t completely sure how it was going to end; this made a really nice change as a lot of what I have been reading recently has been quite predictable.
‘The Desperate Diary of a Country Housewife’ is a very easy read (I devoured it in a single sitting) and Waugh manages to keep the pace constant throughout: I was amazed at how the time flew when I was reading it. It’s very entertaining and funny, and I’ll definitely be trying some of Daisy Waugh’s other novels soon.
‘The new fabulously addictive read from No. 1 bestselling author Sheila O'Flanagan. As TV's favourite weather forecaster, Lainey is good at making predictions. But what she doesn't foresee is that her own life is about to hit a stormy patch. With a string of failed relationships behind her, surely history isn't about to repeat itself with her beloved Ken? To add fuel to the fire, her estranged mother announces that she's returning to Dublin. Deanna has always been dismissive of Lainey's choices - particularly in men. And Deanna's lectures are the last thing Lainey needs now. Yet is there more to her mother than she knows? Uncovering some long-concealed family secrets, Lainey begins to reassess her life. Is the happy-ever-after she's always dreamed of really what she wants after all?’
Meteorlogist Lainey is distraught when her beloved boyfriend Ken breaks up with her. The last person she wants to deal with in this distressed state is her mother, Deanna, who’s returning to Dublin for work. Deanna’s parents brought Lainey up whist Deanna was busy forging a name for herself as a prominent feminist, and she’s never understood how a daughter of hers could turn out to be such a hopeless romantic. Lainey is in no mood for another of her mother’s feminist rants, but if the two actually give each other a chance perhaps it’s possible they could finally form a proper relationship.
My main problem with this book was that I found a lot of the speech very stilted: women friends just don’t speak to each other the way Lainey and her pals do! There didn’t really seem to be much flow to the conversation, and everyone came across as more than a little blunt.
Lainey drove me half crazy: she was obsessed with her looks and with getting married and seemed to spend most of the book preening herself. I thought her job as a meteorologist was interesting, but could have been made more of by focussing on the research side, which, after all, was supposed to be the part of her job she was most interested in. As it was, most of what I saw of Lainey at work was just her preparing to do the weather forecast. I also didn’t like the way Lainey was always harping on about her past engagements. Yes, she’d been engaged twice before, but that’s hardly the most unusual thing in the world. Also, you’d think she’d have learnt from these experiences, she is in her thirties after all.
Lainey’s friend’s marriage made an interesting sub-plot, and her relationship served as a comparison with what Lainey expects from married life. I liked the way that the author seemed to let her characters’ voices really shine through, without allowing any opinions of her own to overshadow theirs. Of the main characters, I especially liked Deanna’s mother, Madeleine. I enjoyed her interactions with Deanna: after many years she’s more than capable of dealing with her often difficult daughter.
‘All For You’ sounded pretty good from the blurb, but didn’t really live up to expectations for me. It was a little slow to start, and, though the pace did pick up after a while, not a lot really happens and the ending seemed very abrupt. I also found the mystery of Lainey’s father a little too soap opera-ish for me, it seemed totally far-fetched and not really in keeping with the story. On the plus side, I thought using the feminist movement as a backdrop was clever and original, and I liked seeing how being involved in it had shaped Deanna’s character.
2 and a half stars
‘Were you a sherbet lemon or chocolate lime fan? Penny chews or hard boiled sweeties (you do get more for your money that way)? The jangle of your pocket money ...the rustle of the pink and green striped paper bag ...Rosie Hopkins thinks leaving her busy London life, and her boyfriend Gerard, to sort out her elderly Aunt Lilian's sweetshop in a small country village is going to be dull. Boy, is she wrong. Lilian Hopkins has spent her life running Lipton's sweetshop, through wartime and family feuds. As she struggles with the idea that it might finally be time to settle up, she also wrestles with the secret history hidden behind the jars of beautifully coloured sweets. Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams - a novel - with recipes.’
Rosie Hopkins is an auxiliary nurse living with her boyfriend Gerard in London. When her mother coerces Rosie into going to help her elderly aunt, Lilian, Rosie moves into her aunt’s cottage in a tiny village deep in the middle of nowhere. Rosie sets about restoring Lilian’s old sweetshop, and soon finds herself becoming attached to its old-fashioned charm. It’s not long before Rosie realises that, even without the requisite wellies and ugly waterproofs, she could possibly be more of a country girl than she first thought.
Although I liked the novel’s storyline, I’m afraid it all felt a little ‘done before’: city girl moves to country, discovers kind rural folk and falls for hunky local man whilst winning over grouchy old person, seemed clichéd. Having said this, Colgan’s writing style was very readable and her lovable, slightly eccentric, characters kept me interested. The setting was gorgeous, and the author described it marvellously, especially when focussing on the changing seasons.
Some of my favourite moments were comic ones involving poor Rosie attempting to integrate herself into village life; I particularly liked her escapades on her aunt’s old bicycle. It’s easy to see why Rosie at first felt completely out of place in the village, but also why she ends up falling in love with it. I thought it a lovely touch that Lilian remembered all the villagers coming into her shop as children and even recalled what they used to buy.
The addition of some anecdotes and sweet recipes, supposedly written by Lilian, at the beginning of the chapters was a nice, original touch. I haven’t seen many novels containing recipes, and it’s something which certainly makes this novel stand out.
I was surprised that I didn’t enjoy flashbacks to Lilian’s life during the Second World War nearly as much as I thought I would. They were much shorter than the modern sections and so felt a little tacked on, almost like they were interrupting the main narrative rather than providing a substantial secondary one. In fact they seemed slightly unnecessary: the information the reader gleans from them, and which is actually relevant to the story, could have been imparted in a more concise manner.
I’m not a big sweet fan, but this book definitely had me craving something sugary and I plan to try out some of the recipes from it. I did feel that the plot was a little clichéd at times, but thought ‘Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams’ was light and enjoyable, perfect for an afternoon on the sofa, with perhaps a packet of pick and mix by your side.
3 and a half stars