Title: Little Beach Street Bakery
Author: Jenny Colgan
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 5 / 5
Setting: Cornwall, England
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.
-- As seen on Goodreads
Little Beach Street Bakery was a little different to what I was initially expecting. Yes, the title gives a good outline of happens in the book – Polly opens a bakery – but so much more is woven into the plot as well. I think it’s safe to say the majority of us have suffered great losses with the recession, and this is one of the main themes running through the book.
Polly started a graphic design business with her partner of seven years, Chris. She knew the business was struggling since the recession and tried to do everything she could with her marketing background to keep the business afloat. Chris handled the majority of the finances, and she was unaware of the extent of the problems they were having. Her relationship with Chris suffered as a result, and they had to declare bankruptcy. The one solace that Polly had was baking: it was her stress-relief and escape.
Polly lost everything bar a few items during bankruptcy proceeding. She had no home and no job, and she couldn’t find anywhere to live in Plymouth. By chance, she stumbled across a run-down loft apartment in Polbearne - an island accessible across a tidal causeway in Cornwall – on one of her many searches that she could afford the rent. She takes a chance and moves in above an old abandoned bakers shop. The story follows Polly’s struggles to make ends meet, how she copes with leaving everything behind, and most importantly, how a new beginning doesn’t have to end in heartbreak if you try hard enough.
I loved Polly’s character. She is strong-willed, courageous and very witty, and I loved seeing the humour sprinkled throughout. Some of the locals were resistant to her when she moved in, and I know it’s probably a little cruel of me to say, but I liked that things were not all plain sailing. I loved seeing her slowly become part of the community, and manage to forge out an income following her passion which is making bread. And Neil (not Muffin, even though that would have been incredibly cute!), that little puffin, I loved him. He brought such a nice balance to everything else that was happening in Polly’s life
Huckle, Tarnie and the rest of the characters are equally likeable. I can’t find fault in any of them, I really liked them all. Everything blended so well together, and I was transported over to Cornwall and feeling all warm and fuzzy every time I was reading. There are quite a few serious threads woven into this book, but I love that the main focus in not on the negative or the heart-breaking: it’s on the bonds formed between people and how they overcome things if you get a little helping hand and support from those around you. The sense of community was so strong and I loved it.
This is my second Jenny Colgan book, and I’m becoming a really big fan. I love her writing style, and how she blends the characters and world-building so seamlessly. It grips you right from the first couple of pages and makes you want to keep reading and getting to know the characters and how they are progressing. This is exactly what I love seeing in a book, and Colgan does this effortlessly. I can’t recommend her books enough. I loved it!