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I’m a big fan of women’s fiction and chick lit but somehow Jenny Colgan managed to pass me by (and I’m still not sure how!). This is the first book I’ve read by her, which I encountered in one of our local train station library shelves, and I’m certain it won’t be the last!
Polly Waterford lives on a beautiful island in Cornwall called Mount Polbearne, where she resides with her fiancée, Huckle, and their adopted pet puffin, Neil, in a converted lighthouse by the sea. Her passion is baking, and she works all year round at Little Beach Street Bakery to provide the best baked goods in the area. Her life is busy but she loves it (her career is her biggest focus) and all seems to be going swimmingly until best friend Kerensa suddenly drops a bombshell on her… One which could affect Polly’s friendship group, relationship with Huckle, and more. Despite her hectic schedule she needs to support Kerensa with facing up to a potentially devastating situation whilst also keeping her business and relationship happy, and all in the run-up to Christmas.
Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery is actually the third in the series by Jenny Colgan which revolve around Polly and Huckle, however is easily read as a standalone novel due to very good explanations of character and backstory. I hadn’t read either previous novels before this one but will definitely be going back to them now. Colgan has a beautifully cosy writing style which I just love – so easy-going, even when topics get a little difficult, and she strikes the perfect balance between light-hearted humour and more serious emotional issues.
I found the plot to be surprisingly emotionally engaging, with some interesting sub-plots as well. Without giving away any spoilers the main plot deals with a difficult moral topic and whilst some readers may not enjoy how it’s dealt with it, it gives several viewpoints into how something like that can be approached. Colgan has done really well at portraying an ethical battle with oneself in a genre that sometime’s (wrongly) considered too fluffy or trivial, so I appreciated that she’s written such a plot despite feeling like I would have dealt with it differently.
I think what really makes Colgan’s writing is how much she brings her characters and settings to life – it’s obvious from her descriptions that she has a strong understanding and a passion for Cornwall! Polly is such a wonderful main character to follow and I felt that she’s highly relatable; so many of us nowadays struggle with work-life balance and also sometimes communication with others. Other themes she explores are moving forwards, loyalty to others, and fear of commitment – again, relatable and engaging topics that many of us will know from experience.
All of the characters in the book felt well-developed despite me not reading the previous two books, and I came away from reading feeling like I’d made a huge group of friends. Huckle was wonderful, and seeing things through Kerensa’s and her husband Reuben’s eyes was fascinating. I felt connected to many of the characters… Even those that had just stopped into the bakery for a few times and weren’t featured any more than that. I also loved the addition of Neil the puffin – such a cute idea for a character and with a purpose to the story, rather than just there because the author thought it would be fun. Sometimes too many characters can spoil the story, so to speak, yet this certainly isn’t the case here.
It’s probably fairly obvious what my verdict on Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery is – I don’t even like Christmas all that much and yet there I was enjoying a novel about it! This is a wholehearted “go out and read this book now!” from me, and reading it has inspired me to move onto the many other Jenny Colgan books. She also includes recipes for tasty treats in the back of each book, so there’s really no reason not to give this one a read!
If you’d like to purchase Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery or any of the previous books in the Little Beach Street Bakery collection then you can do so here:
If you enjoyed my review or have your own comments about the book then please let me know in the comments! You can also check my other recent book reviews for the women’s fiction genre here: