Just one simple piece of information about me before we start off with this review; I absolutely hate everything violent, scary or overly dramatic. And it doesn’t matter whether it is a book or a movie. Because these scenes always haunt me for days to come. So please just take this into consideration when you read my review. 🙂
Having read the Cupcake books by Jenny Colgan and loving them beyond words, I couldn’t wait for the Little Beach Street Bakery to come out. My Mom and I both read Meet me at the Cupcake Café and Christmas at the Cupcake Café sometime in winter and we both wanted to open up our own café immediately. Jenny Colgan has such a lovely style when it comes to writing and her characters are alway very warm and happy people. You just have to love these books. So, when I heard that there was going to be a new one in March, I started counting the days until it was released and bought it immediately. I read the whole book in just one evening/night and I almost felt bad afterwards. I imagined Jenny Colgan carefully coming up with her characters and their stories. Laughing at Neil the puffin and falling in love with him just like me. I imagined her typing each single letter into her computer and I felt bad. Because it must have taken her quite a while to write a 400 something pages book. And it took me only a few hours to read it. Unfair, isn’t it? 🙂 Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading it. xD
The main character Polly is in her thirties when she finds her world crumbling down. The business that she started with her boyfriend a few years back is failing and they have to leave the bank intrude into their lives to confiscate everything of value that they could probably sell to pay off their debts. As if that wouldn’t be enough already, Polly’s relationship with her boyfriend Chris has also reached a low. And when they have to move out of their flat, Polly, ignoring all the advices of her friends, simply packs up her belongings and rents a crumbling house. It is located on a small island in Cornwall that is somehow cut off from the land. The only passage is a small street that is completely dependent on the tide.
In this quite and dreamy town, away from her old life, Polly settles down and slowly starts finding herself again. She rediscovers her passion for baking and after some struggles reopens the old bakery in the house that she’s renting.
Polly is a character that I found very easy to relate to. She is someone who had all these big dreams and then had to watch them fall apart before her eyes. She had faced many obstacles and had been pushed over by a lot of people. But despite all of that she didn’t lose her sense of hope and her kindness. She is a lovely woman with an amazing passion for everything related to bread. When you read the book, it is impossible to not want to get some flour and start kneading yourself. In her very first night in her new home, Polly hears screaming coming from the basement. Totally scared she gets down there and finds a little puffin that had broken its wing. Being all alone, Neil the puffin is her only friend for a long time. But of course he isn’t the only male capturing her heart. There is also the young fisherman Tarnie with his blue eyes and the strange American, Huckle, looking after his bees somewhere in the forest. Both men fancy her and the troubles ahead soon reveal itself. There is jealousy, heartache, confessions and everything related to this typical triangle relationship. And that’s the part that I didn’t like too much about the book. If you haven’t read it yet and still want to (which I highly recommend you do!), skip this part and come back later because there are some spoilers ahead! 🙂
Tarnie, the fisherman, is the first of the two guys to take Polly out. He drives her to this lovely, but tiny island. They catch some fish, go swimming in the freezing sea and one thing leads to the other. Polly definitely has a crush on him. But that crush soon comes crushing down when she learns that Tarnie is actually married. Now, this is the first thing I don’t like. Tarnie is such a lovely guy and you would never expect him to be of the cheating kind. Thus, this piece of information comes pretty out of the blue and you never really get to “dislike” him for this. Maybe that’s what Jenny Colgan was going for, but I just don’t like to sympathize with cheating husbands.
It is kind of obvious that he is no one for Polly to settle for after that. So the next choice is Huckle. He is a lovely guy with quite a turbulent past. And just like Tarnie he is very nice and does seem like the perfect boyfriend material. So Polly starts noticing him, but their romance doesn’t really start until after Tarnie drowns in a storm. And that’s the point where I didn’t really like the book anymore. Because it destroyed my perfect happy ending. Of course, Polly and Huckle get together in the end of the book and buy the lighthouse on the island, but Tarnie’s death somehow throws a shadow over their bliss.
Some of you might argue that that is exactly what makes the book enjoyable, but I like my books with obvious good and bad guys and a perfect happy ever after. Life itself can be quite depressing at times. I don’t want my books to be just that as well. Of course there needs to be some balance. There needs to be some drama otherwise it gets boring. And there need to be some surprises. But for me there was just a bit too much of everything without real transitions from one to the other. I would have needed another 400 pages to forget that Tarnie, the one I favored at the beginning of the book, just died.
*SPOILER ALERT OVER*
Despite all of that, I still think that Little Beach Street Bakery is a lovely book. It is a nice read with very likable characters and of course Neil the puffin who must be everybody’s sweetheart. I really, really do hope that Jenny Colgan will soon publish her next book and in the meantime, I just might pick up one of her other books, or open up my own bakery, café or bistro. I’m surely inspired now! And yes! I’ve already tried out one of the recipes at the back of the book. And even tough I still need to practice a bit more to make them look absolutely perfect, they already tasted amazing #yummie