29 March 2012
Book Review: Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan
After reading (and loving) my first Jenny Colgan novel last year, Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe, I was really, really keen to read to read her brand new novel, especially as it sounded like it was going to be about sweets... how could you go wrong?! The cover is fantastic, red with the teal foil highlights for the lettering, and I think it is certainly going to be a book that people will want to pick up and find out more about, especially thanks to that tantalising title! I have to say I found this book better than Colgan's last release, and that's certainly saying something considering how great that book was, and I ploughed through this book in just a few days because I was in love with the characters, and the interesting way in which it was written, it really did keep me hooked. I have to say as well, whether you're a fan of sweets or not, do read this book because it's a joy!
The book tells the tale, funnily enough, of Rosie Hopkins, and her sudden move from London to the countryside where her ailing, elderly Aunt Lilian is living alone, and needs Rosie's help. Rosie is reluctant to leave her job as auxiliary nurse in a busy city hospital, and boyfriend Gerard behind, but does so for her family, especially mother Angie. When she gets there, she finds Lilian's sweet shop closed and it looks like it hasn't been open for a while, and Lilian is in a fairly bad way too. Rosie struggles to get used to country life, every knowing everyone elses business, but befriends the local doctor, and ends up with stroppy local patient Stephen to tend to. Rosie is determined to get Lilian's shop ready for selling, and sets about making it look brand new, but ends up falling in love with it herself. I loved Rosie straight away, she's the perfect heroine for a book, and is so loveable, there's nothing at all to fault about her!
Rosie is all about her family, which is a good message to send out, and helps Lilian out even though the pair barely know each other. I liked that Rosie didn't take any nonsense from her elderly Aunt, and found the pair to be quite the comedy duo as the book went on, with both girls giving as good as they got! I especially enjoyed reading about Rosie's escapades with the locals in the village, some hilarious moments did make me laugh out loud, and I found it so easy to read. Lilian herself was a great character, clearly troubled by events that happened in her past, but reading her unfolding relationship with her niece was fantastic, and I really liked the stroppy old woman by the end of it! These two were definitely the main characters, but there were a few others who were important too, such as Rosie's hideous boyfriend Gerard, just an awful character and I could not understand for the life of me why Rosie let him treat her that way! Moray the local doc was lovely, a really friendly face for Rosie in the book, and I loved their scenes together, and the medical issues that came up were well written too, I enjoyed the realism of those.
Now to the sweet shop. Well what can you say? Colgan has clearly done her research (lucky her!) about all manner of sweets, old and new and so many make an appearance in the book that it makes for fantastic reading! As well as mentioning the sweets in the shop, Colgan has introduced extracts from a book Lilian wrote about sweets, which has real recipes in it too if you fancy trying those out, and they sound amazing! I found the extracts at the beginning of the chapter were funny and enlightening, and added something a bit different to the book. I also really enjoyed the descriptions of the sweet shop, from the fancy chocolate boxes to the big glass jars lined up on the shelves... it sounded like heaven! Another thing I want to mention about this book was the way it was told. The majority of it was in the present day with Rosie and Lilian, but throughout the book, there were flashbacks to Lilian's youth in the 1940's, and what exactly went on there is nothing short of heart-breaking, and very emotional to read. Colgan easily manages to transport you back many years into that time period, and it was great to have a background for Lilian to explain her in the present day, I found these parts of the book so touching and incredibly well written.
Overall, this book was a joy to read, and I really can't recommend it enough. From the enticing, bright front cover that immediately draws you in, you're then sucked into the world of Rosie and Lilian and the glorious sweet shop, as well as the things in the women's lives too. There is a great cast of characters, from the youngest villagers through to the oldest, and a moody young man thrown in to boot, and I loved every single page. Colgan manages to combine this story with Lilian's youth with ease, and I enjoyed each part of the book equally. This book delves deep into the heart of family, love and sweeties, and I defy you not to crave at least half of the things mentioned in the book, especially in a candy striped paper bag as you're reading along! I miss the days of proper pick n mix, and this book will definitely bring that all back in your mind, and more! A fantastic novel that I know will be a surefire success, and it thoroughly deserves to be! A really treat of a read!
You can buy Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop of Dreams as a paperback or an eBook now!