18 February 2017

Book Review: The Plumberry School of Comfort Food by Cathy Bramley

"Verity Bloom hasn't been interested in cooking anything more complicated than the perfect fish finger sandwich, ever since she lost her best friend and baking companion two years ago.

But an opportunity to help a friend lands her right back in the heart of the kitchen. The Plumberry School of Comfort Food is due to open in a few weeks' time and needs the kind of great ideas that only Verity could cook up. And with new friendships bubbling and a sprinkling of romance in the mix, Verity finally begins to feel like she's home.

But when tragedy strikes at the very heart of the cookery school, can Verity find the magic ingredient for Plumberry while still writing her own recipe for happiness?"

Rating: 5/5

 Cathy Bramley is one of my favourite authors, and I always look forward to her bringing out a new book! Somehow, this one slipped out of my line of sight for a while when picking a new book, and when I realised again a few weeks ago I hadn't read it, I eagerly scooped it off the shelf and dove in, ready for another wonderfully heart-warming read! I always love Cathy's characters, her settings and her writing, so I always know I'm in for a good read when I pick up one of her books!

I have to say I was completely absorbed by this novel from the very beginning. Verity is a wonderful leading lady for the book, and somehow you can easily like. She's a girl after my own, loving a good fish finger sandwich for tea! She is a pretty good cook but gave up after the sudden loss of her best friend a few years back. This isn't a huge plot point, but certainly defines a lot of things for most of the characters in the book, and while her best friend Mimi isn't actually ever in the book, she's very present, and I loved how the characters all keep her memory alive through their own actions. Verity's mum in particular was one I felt incredibly sorry for. No parent should have to bury their child, and she had to do this horrible reality. However, I admire how she got herself up and carried on with her life, I'm not sure I could be that brave.

Verity begins working for Gloria's new cookery school, aptly called The Plumberry School of Comfort Food. Yum. It sounds like such a good idea, and I was hoping the friends would be able to make a success of it, together with the professional chef Tom they hired to lead the classes. Everything about the school sounds charming, from the building and grounds, to the lovely people they have running it. It seemed like a recipe for success, and I was willing them to make it work! Tom was a great addition to the book, a chef who didn't really want to dumb down his cooking for the average cook, leading to some rather funny moments in a few classes! I also loved the 'will they, won't they' element of Verity and Tom's friendship too.

There was one mysterious storyline running throughout the book, and obviously I won't discuss it here because I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but I was totally surprised by the twist in this particular tale. I hadn't expected it at all, and thought it was a brave issue to tackle in this story, suddenly giving the book an emotionally charged edge. I admire Cathy Bramley for including a topic like this, and thought it was very well done, and fitted in perfectly for these characters and their story.

Overall, this was a wonderful read and I was really disappointed when it came to an end! I'd really gotten to know and love the characters, and enjoyed their whole journey throughout the book. I also loved all of the characters, they really all did add something to this story, and therefore it was a joy to read. Cathy Bramley's writing is wonderful, she really gets into the heart of her characters, explains their emotions well and sets the scene perfectly. Her settings are always spot on too, I love imagining the places where she sets her books! I now can't wait to read Cathy's next book, she remains one of my favourites!

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