Title: Little Beach Street Bakery
Author: Jenny Colgan
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: March 31, 2015Polly Waterford has found herself in dire straits. She thought she had the perfect life. A long term relationship with her boyfriend Chris, part owner of a small graphic design company housed in a small two room office in a converted railway station, and a flat purchased together with Chris in Plymouth, Devon in the UK. However she suddenly is faced with the reality that her life has turned less than perfect -her long term relationship has crumbled. She and Chris have been slowly drifting apart for months. She discovers Chris has been hiding financial problems stemming from their jointly owned graphic design business from her. This results in them having to declare bankruptcy. The business and their assets are seized by the bank. Chris moves to live with his mother while Polly is forced to find habitation that she can afford on the small amount given to her by the bank while the the couple's home is sold to pay off the outstanding debts.
Polly quickly finds that without a job, she can't afford to live in the city she has called home for her entire life. She does not want to be a bother to her mother who has moved into a small retirement flat, she is embarrassed to admit what is happening to her friends and ask to couch surf on friends couches while she gets her feet beneath her, and does not want to get into a flat share situation with younger twenty somethings and multiple roommates. On a whim, Polly looks for listings in nearby Cornwall and finds one she can afford on the isle of Mount Polbearne. This is a little village on an island formed by a sea mount that is connected to the mainland by a medieval causeway that is above water level when the tides are right.
Upon visiting, the flat is awful, dirty, with a hole in the roof above and located above a disused bakery. It is owned by an awful rude woman who owns the only open bakery in the village. A bakery which sells sub standard bread baked on the mainland. But there is something about the quietness of the village and the view of the sea from the window of the living room of the flat that pulls Polly to live on the island. Life on the island is not easy, her heart is slowly mending and she makes friends with a local fisherman Tarnie, and a good looking American Huckle who keeps bees locally, and a rescued injured baby puffin named Neil. However, she still can't find work, and she will not buy the bread sold by her landlady - preferring to instead bake her own. When her landlady injures herself in a fall, and Polly comes to the rescue by becoming the baker for the bakery life starts to look a little less negative to her.
But when a brutal storm hits and the tragedy hits the small village can Polly and her new friends help keep moral up even as they are hit by the despair of the events around them?
This is the first book by Jenny Colgan that I have read although I have had her books recomended in the past. I have to say that I absolutely loved it. I am a sucker for stories with life changing events and the heroines whose life ends up in upheaval. I am also fond of books with stories revolving around food - especially bakeries. There is a wonderful statement made by the author about Polly's character that in these days of low card diet crazes I found refreshing:
"Polly was very specific about bread. She loved it. She had loved it in fashion and out of fashion; as a child, as an adult. It was the favorite part of going to a restaurant. She loved it toasted or as it was; she loved bagels, and cheese on toast and pain d'epices and twisted Italian plaits. She loved artisan sourdough that cost six pounds for a tiny loaf, and she loved sliced white that molded and soaked up the juices of a bacon sandwich."
-Little Beach Street Bakery, Jenny Colgan
I zoomed through this book as it was just the right amount of light story, life upheaval events, and finding unknown strength in oneself for a hot summer reading during the heatwave that hit the Chicago land are recently. I was intrigued by the setting as the author is from Scotland, which is nowhere near Cornwall, and looked up Cornwall to see what I could find out about it and it Mount Polbearne was a real place. I found that the author had fashioned her village from a real location St. Michael's Mount which is a tidal island that has a castle a church and a small village that can only be reached by a causeway that is acessable between mid tide and low water and the oldest bui;dings on it date from the 12th century. Cool huh? While looking this up I found a wonderful interview with the author about her memories of going on summer holiday to Cornwall from Scotland as a child. You can read it here Author Jenny Colgan reveals how Cornwall kick starts her creativity
I loved this book and have the second book in the series Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery sitting here to be read soon. So look fo an upcoming review :)