Rating: 4 1/2 stars
“Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery” by Jenny Colgan is the sequel to “Little Beach Street Bakery.” Colgan carefully begins the sequel with enough background information for a new reader to feel up-to-speed on the backstory. But really, why not just get the first book and read it and then read the sequel.
Both books are well worth reading, even if just for a light summer book to read poolside or, better yet, at the beach. Of course, after reading the books, most of us wish we were in Cornwall, on the beach, reading the books. Also, be forewarned: This book may encourage you, even force you, to eat many many carbs. The descriptions of the aroma and taste and texture of freshly baked bread will drive any bread lover crazy. This reviewer can’t eat gluten, so it was especially torturous.
The story is what makes the books so enjoyable. And the story consists of many lovable characters — the most lovable of whom is Polly. Polly, in the first book, loses her business and her man. She has no money and no job, but just enough to rent a tiny apartment over an abandoned bakery on an island with a causeway to the mainland. Because of the tides, the causeway can only be crossed at certain times of day which makes going anywhere off the tiny island require planning.
To make the time pass, Polly does what she loves and bakes bread. The aroma of the baking bread ends up making most islanders secretly buy her bread since they all hate the factory white bread that is sold in the island’s bakery. Nothing is actually baked in the bakery, and the owner is a sour old woman.
In this sequel, Polly is happily baking bread and running two bakeries on the island. When Mrs. Manse, the owner of the bakeries, dies, her sister inherits everything and send her son, a miserable human being, to run them. Polly, in the time between the two books, has bought the old lighthouse on the island, and she and Huckle, the honey-man from the first book with whom she fell in love, live there with their puffin, Neil.
Colgan’s stories work so well because she is wonderful at creating fascinating characters. They are real and filled with good and bad. Some are funny and some are tragic. All make mistakes, and all — even the bad guys — have at least one redeeming quality. It may be hard to find, or it may show up almost after the book has ended, but it’s there.
It’s the richness of character and characters that keep the reader turning the pages. It’s also the fabulous characters that make the reader want to read the sequel. Of course, there is also the fact that within the pages of each book the reader will encounter death, tragedy, romance, humor, wonderful food and the beauty of the Cornish countryside.
Enjoy yourself, and treat yourself to both books.
Please note: This review is based on the advance reader’s copy provided by William Morrow, the publisher, for review purposes.