Monday, 21 April 2014

Review: Little Beach Street Bakery - Jenny Colgan

Polly Waterford is recovering from a toxic relationship. Unable to afford their townhouse, she has to move miles away from everyone, to the sleepy little seaside resort of Polbearne, 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.

Having recently rediscovered Colgan I've been eagerly anticipating her latest for some time now. This Easter gave me the perfect opportunity to take some time off, lock myself away and completely devour Little Beach Street Bakery (and a packet of hot cross buns...).

Beach Street is the tale of Polly's fall from grace with the collapse of her buisness and her slow journey of recovery and reinvention in the adorable town of Polbearne. Polly's stubborn streak that sees her determined to set out on her own and not to turn the support of her mother or her best friend, Kerensa will be instantly relatable for most readers.

What I love about Colgan's books is that they're most definitely the heroine's story, more often than not a voyage of discovery that is prompted by an unexpected life change. The chance to re-invent oneself and to sit back and ask what it is we actually want out of life is one we always have and yet so rarely choose to take. Polly shows us is that's never to late to find out what it is we were made to do.

However, as much as this is Polly's story no heroine lives in isolation, and, as we've come to expect, she attracts a host of wonderful secondary characters throughout her journey, not least of which is Neil the puffin. I also loved the jolly bunch of fishermen that Polly instantly befriends, their very first appearance cementing my love for them all. Colgan excels in her own unique brand of Brit-lit,  eschewing glamorous city settings and celebrating all that is quirky and eccentric about British small town life.

Unfortunately, I do feel that the premise for Polly's transition from business owner to baker was much more tenuous than Rosie or Issy's in Sweetshop and Cupcake Cafe. I'll also admit to not quite feeling the romance at the end of the novel, whilst I loved the build up between the characters and really felt for poor Polly's mistake, the ending was somewhat anti-climatic and lacked that usual 'awww' that Colgan is so good at providing.

That aside, I still adored Beach Street, it does have a rushed air about it and is undeniably not my favourite of Colgan's but it's still a cut above a lot of offerings out there. Beach Street was the perfect Easter read and should make an enjoyable holiday escapist book too.

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