Thursday, December 21, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

This story is about one particular Christmas, but it actually starts with a very Bad Thing happening the previous spring. ~Opening of Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery


Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery #3) by Jenny Colgan
William Morrow, 2017
Fiction; 320 pgs
Source: Review copy provided  by publisher for an honest review.

Goodreads Summary: 
New York Times-bestselling author Jenny Colgan dishes up another delightful holiday story about the residents in an idyllic Cornish village who must join forces to save Christmas.

In the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne, the Christmas season has arrived. It’s a joyous time for family, friends, and feasting as decorations sparkle along the town’s winding streets and shop windows feature buoyant, festive displays. And in Polly’s Little Beach Street bakery, the aromas of gingerbread cookies and other treats tempt people in from the cold.

Though Polly is busy keeping up with the demands of the season, she still makes time for her beekeeper boyfriend, Huckle. She’s especially happy to be celebrating the holiday this year with him, and can’t wait to cuddle up in front of the fireplace with a cup of eggnog on Christmas Eve.

But holiday bliss soon gives way to panic when a storm cuts the village off from the mainland. Now it will take all of the villagers to work together in order to ensure everyone has a Merry Christmas.
It's often the blurbs that convince me to read a book, and it was the last paragraph of the above one that especially captured my attention. As a result, I had a built in expectation of what was coming as I read. By the time I reached the end, I wondered if maybe I missed something. There was a big storm. And it did cause a lot of havoc. However, events didn't play out quite the way the blurb suggests . . .

Setting that aside, I was pleasantly surprised by Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery which, while the third book in a trilogy, was my first visit to Mount Polbearne. Jenny Colgan does a wonderful job of putting the reader right into this little Cornish community, a bit cut off from the mainland. When high tide rolls in, it can be dangerous crossing over to the village, water lapping at the tires of the vehicles who dare to cross. Mount Polbearne is a coastal village that prides itself in maintaining a more traditional feel, which means updates and modern additions aren't always welcome.

What I would not give to taste one of Polly Waterford's baked goods! The descriptions of her treats just about had me salivating--and I'm not a a big foodie person. I liked Polly's strong work ethic and her kind heart. It is obvious she bears scars from her past, raised by a single mother who had been wronged by the man she loved, Polly's father, whom Polly has never met. It's tainted Polly's own views of marriage, despite her engagement to Huckle. Can I just say now how much I adore Huckle? He seems like such a great guy, very dedicated to Polly. He is supportive and would clearly do anything for her. He doesn't quite understand Polly's reservations about marriage and starting a family, however, given that she hasn't exactly shared her fears with him.

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery has quite a bit going on. Polly is burdened with a secret one of her best friend's is wrestling with, and keeping it from Huckle is not only wearing on her, but is taking it's toll on their relationship. Polly's father's wife has reached out to her, hoping Polly will consider meeting with her father--something Polly isn't sure she wants to do. Not only might it be hurtful to her mother, but this is a man who wanted nothing to do with Polly her entire life. Why should she give him the time of day now? Add to that a big party to cater, a pregnant and depressed best friend, a puffin sanctuary that needs saving, and an oncoming storm. I was pulled into the novel right from the start and enjoyed every minute I spent with all the characters. I shivered in that old lighthouse they lived in at night, wished alongside them for a quiet Christmas just the two of them, cried with them when they were at odds and when Polly was struggling with her mixed feelings about meeting her father, and wanted to visit with them a bit longer than I could once I reached that last page.

I especially loved Neil. Who wouldn't love that little puffin who has made his home with Polly and Huckle?

I enjoyed the humor and romance Jenny Colgan brings out in the novel, and I also appreciated the varying voices of her characters as they struggled with some rather complicated moral and just plain emotional issues. People make some pretty stupid choices--or even choices we don't agree with. When it's a friend or someone you love, how do you react? Do you stand by them? Take a superior moral stand? Straddle both? Especially when so much is at stake.

I liked that each of the characters, even the minor ones, are fully developed, and flawed. I don't necessarily see a happy ending for all of them, despite this being the kind of book that definitely ends on a high note. That could just me my more realistic nature, however. I hope at least Polly, Huckle and Neil--and the rest of the puffins, at least--have their happily ever after ending the book suggests.

As much as Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery can be read as a stand alone, I do think it might be preferable to start with the first book in the trilogy. I had no problem following along and getting to know the characters. The author does a decent job of making sure their back stories are more or less filled in. I think though I missed out on some of that by starting with the final book in the trilogy. I definitely want to  go back and start from the beginning.


To learn more about Jenny Colgan and her work, please visit the author on the author's website

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

20 comments:

  1. I hear good things about this author. But I don't if I will ever got to her. Too many authors, so little time!

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    1. Book Sage - I look forward to reading more by her. I have another of her books on my TBR pile. Just need to make time for it!

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  2. I like books like this one at this time of the year. Especially foodie books.

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    1. Ti - I do too. They help get me in the spirit of the season. :-)

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  3. I haven't read any of Colgan's "bakery" books, only her bookshop book, but I did really enjoy that one. I'll have to try this series next year. :)

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    1. Lark - I want to give her bookshop book a try. I'm sorry to hear you didn't care for that one. Hopefully you will like this one if you give it a try.

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  4. I've been reading good things about this book. I don't think I'll get to it this year - maybe next year!

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  5. I just read this recently too and thought it was a cute and fun book -- a good lighter read for Christmas. (It's weird -- even though it had a few heavy issues going on, it still felt like book candy to me). I loved the town and I ADORED Neil -- I'm a bit puffin-obsessed myself! I do want to go back and read the first two books as well, plus her bookstore one.

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    1. Lindsay - It was on the lighter side, which was perfect for this time of year. :-) I am glad you enjoyed this one too! Neil is awesome.

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  6. It's been a while since I've read anything by Jenny Colgan. This sounds fun although I'm sure I would want to have some sort of treat while reading this as I would probably be craving some baked goodies!

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    1. Iliana - It was hard not to wish I had some of her goodies while reading. :-)

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  7. I'm reading it right now and enjoying it so far!

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    1. Jo - I am glad you are enjoying it! It's a fun one. :-)

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  8. I have this one too and I didn't realize until it arrived that it was part of a series. It sounds good and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I won't get to my copy until after Christmas but I look forward to reading it.

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    1. Naida - I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did!

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  9. I have at least one of these and I'm really looking forward to it. I've read 2 Jenny Colgan books in the last year or so and absolutely loved them both. I'm curious to see what I'd think of more a series type book from her. I think I need to get started so I can get to this next Christmas!

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    1. Katherine - I look forward to reading more by Colgan. I have a bookshop book around here somewhere . . . Just need to find it!

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