Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review: Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

When you enjoy a book, sometimes you are leery of reading the sequel, worried that it will take characters you've come to care for in directions you don't want. This is especially true if the first book leaves them in a good and happy place. So I worried about Jenny Colgan's Summer at Little Beach Streetn Bakery, satisfied with where she left Polly, Huckle, and Neil the domesticated puffin after the first book. But they and the small fishing village of Mount Polbearne were such rays of sunshine that I couldn't resist delving back into the happenings there. This second book takes them to sad and hard places, just like real life, but they remain characters you will care about, root for, and ultimately rejoice with when they face the newest challenges life has sent them.

The novel opens with a catch-up by the author for those readers who don't remember or haven't read the first book, placing Polly's arrival in Cornwall, starting the bakery, acquiring Neil, ending up in a relationship with Huckle, and moving into a lighthouse in context. But happily ever afters are marred in real life and Colgan doesn't let her characters just fade away into a romantic fairy tale. New people come to the small, remote village, setting in motion change and conflict. Polly's crotchety landlord dies and so Polly's days of running the bakery her way come to a crashing halt when Mrs. Manse's boorish, nasty nephew takes over, insisting on cutting costs, lowering quality, and eventually firing Polly. Just as Polly is grappling with the loss of her beloved bakery, Huckle must go home to Georgia for an extended period of time that starts to look like it might last forever, Selina, Tarnie's fragile widow moves into town, reminding Polly of her own ill-fated relationship with Tarnie, and Polly must face the idea that her chubby, lovable puffin Neil really does belong with his own kind. Trouble certainly does come in threes for poor Polly and she struggles to find the drive and spirit to face all the changes and road blocks that this perfect storm has thrown her and to start over again.

As in the previous book, Colgan captures the connection and caring between people in the small town of Mount Polbearne. Her characters are well drawn and realistic. Malcolm is unlikable but also pitiable on occasion. Polly isn't quite as vivacious as in the first book but she perseveres and adapts even when she'd clearly prefer to climb the many flights of stairs to her bed and just hunker down until blue skies come again. Her relationship with Huckle is challenged by misunderstanding and the weight of responsibilities (for both of them) but it is ultimately a comfortable and easy relationship that proves it can weather any storm. Polly isn't quite as vivacious as she is in the first book and suffers from doubts and depression when she is walloped by so much going wrong at once or feeling so uncertain on top of it all but eventually her courage and ability to adapt in the face of so much turmoil shows her to be the same survivor readers loved the first time around. The setting is appealing and makes the reader want to visit Mount Polbearne and sample some of Polly's delectable sounding bread.  All is not light and fluffy here though.  There is a darkness that swoops in like a summer storm, ferocious and violent, but it eventually cedes to the clean, clear blue skies that follow such an event. There are no big surprises hidden in the story and it is, in the end, an easy, feel-good, escapist read perfect for the sunshine and warmth of summer. Light fiction fans will rejoice at this, Colgan's latest, delectable and delightful as it is.

For more information about Jenny Colgan, take a look at her website, her Facebook author page or follow her on Twitter. Check out the book's Good Reads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to the publisher and Trish from TLC Book Tours.


  1. Jenny Colgan is an author that I have enjoyed in the past although I have not read this series. I always love her book covers, they always cause me to stop and see what the book is about. Putting this one on my wish list (and of course the first book).

  2. Great review! I actually didn't like this one nearly as much as the first book -- I'm not sure why there was a second book except for gratuitous author reasons. The entire plot of the second book seemed unnecessary to me with so much inorganic conflict. Glad you liked it, though!

    my review

  3. I know what you mean about reading a sequel - will you love it as much as the first, or will it ruin the whole thing for you?! I'm so happy that this book exceeded your expectations!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


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