Published: 13th March 2014
Polly Waterford is recovering from a toxic relationship. Unable to afford their flat, she has to move miles away from everyone, to a sleepy little seaside resort in Cornwall, 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.
When I was talking to Jennifer on Twitter, we realised that we were reading the same book at the same time, so I suggested a joint review which can be found on both of our blogs on the same day. That way, the author can get double the love.
J= I’d been looking forward to reading Little Beach Street Bakery ever since I saw the beautiful cover with its pretty pinks and blues and the selection of baked goods (who doesn’t like a cover with a cupcake or two?) and I wasn’t disappointed. I immediately connected with Polly and felt for her as her business with partner Chris crumbled and she was forced to move out of their lovely flat and find somewhere cheaper to live. Polly ends up on a small island, which is accessed by a causeway and I loved the idea of being shut off and isolated much of the time, creating a tight-knit community. Polly quickly gets to know the people of the town, from the friendly fishermen to the unwelcoming Mrs Manse who owns the town’s bakery. Although Mrs Manse is incredibly unpleasant towards Polly, there is obviously a story buried beneath the hostile exterior and I liked getting to know the woman better and digging away at the layers until we discover what makes her act the way she does.
E= Polly will do anything for her other half, Chris. I wasn’t sure if they were married or just in a relationship, but either way, I disliked him the first page. I desperately wanted Polly to get rid of him. She gave up her own dreams in order to make his a reality and she did, but then it flopped. She’s a warm hearted character who was an absolute pleasure to read about.We have to talk about Neil the Puffin. Oh my days. Cutest character in the entire Fictional world (sorry Hedwig!). He was brilliant. He lifted Polly’s spirits up when she needed it the most and he was simply the best. Eep!
J= The descriptions in the book were so vivid that I felt like I was there, sitting on the harbour with the smell of fresh bread in the air. Polly begins living in shoddy conditions, but Jenny Colgan really sold the place to me. I’d have moved into Polly’s flat straight away – whether it had a leaky roof or not! And then there was the puffin, who I could gush about all day. I’ve never paid much attention to puffins before, but after reading Little Beach Street Bakery, I want one. Quite badly. Whether they’re supposed to be pets or not. The puffin was so adorable and probably my favourite part of the whole book. I wanted to reach into the pages and give him a big squeeze!
E= “Oh Christ, I’m the kind of woman who talks to sofas.” Jenny is a very witty person and that certainly comes across well in the book with the hilarious one liners. Polly’s personality is funny and Jenny’s wit oozes through onto the pages. With every chapter, Polly’s love for bread shines through. For me, that’s the only negative aspect (joking, obviously) of the book: IT’LL MAKE YOU CRAVE BREAD SO DAMN MUCH!! I was extremely tempted several times to put the book down and just read the recipes. I couldn’t wait. I had to eat bread whilst reading.
J= Little Beach Street Bakery is a light-hearted read with a great set of characters (even Reuben grew on me in the end). I thought Polly was a brilliant main character for the book. She’s very down to earth but, instead of wallowing that she’s going through a rough patch, she gets out there and makes the best of a bad situation, which I really admired. I liked the relationships that Polly forms with the different members of the community and I thought that there was a good mix of both humour and heartfelt moments within the book. A word of warning though: you will be hungry throughout the novel due to the delicious, mouth-watering bread being baked!
E= In all honesty, I couldn’t fault this book. Jenny Colgan is one of those rare authors and by rare, I mean that with every book comes consistency. I’m never disappointed by what she writes. Oh, but Jenny – please write a book just about Neil the Puffin. Please and thank you.
Please do follow my wonderful co-reviewer for today on Twitter, Jennifer – @Writer_Jenn and make sure you have a good nosy at her blog: http://www.jenniferjoycewrites.co.uk/