Thursday, 29 March 2012
Welcome to Rosie Hopkins Sweet Shop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan
Were you a sherbet lemon or chocolate lime fan? Penny chews or hard boiled sweeties (you do get more for your money that way)? The jangle of your pocket money ...the rustle of the pink and green striped paper bag ...Rosie Hopkins thinks leaving her busy London life, and her boyfriend Gerard, to sort out her elderly Aunt Lilian's sweetshop in a small country village is going to be dull. Boy, is she wrong. Lilian Hopkins has spent her life running Lipton's sweetshop, through wartime and family feuds. As she struggles with the idea that it might finally be time to settle up, she also wrestles with the secret history hidden behind the jars of beautifully coloured sweets. Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams - a novel - with recipes.
Last year I reviewed Colgan's previous book, Meet me at Cupcake Cafe, which I was not very keen on, however I was still looking forward to reading this book as the synopsis sounded brilliant. I am so glad I decided to give Colgan another chance because I enjoyed this book so much more.
I was immediately drawn to the cover of this book, in a striking red and teal foiling, it is both unusual and striking, with the vintage till and apron setting the scene for the book perfectly.
I immediately liked the main character Rosie, who has been asked to go and stay with her old aunt who has had recent hip operation and needs help with her sweet shop. Rosie has been asked to go and get it ready for sale along with the accompanying house but as soon as Rosie arrived in the small village I had a feeling that this would not be the case.
The village sounds quite close knit, with everyone knowing everyone else's business and not being welcoming to newcomers. There are farms, farmers and labourer's all around, local aristocracy and also a nosey dentist who detests sweet shops, an old doctor who has now employed a younger dishy doctor.
I really enjoyed the story - the present day story is intermingled with excerpts from Aunt Lillian's diary from when she was younger and explains why Lillian has been single throughout her life. Each chapter is began with excerpts from Lillian Hopkin's book about sweets, and each chapter focuses on one sweet.
The story has many different strands; Lillian, Rosie's elderly aunt, who is still single and took over the shop from her father; Rosie, who at the start of the book is living with her boyfriend, waiting for him to propose, her decision to go and look after her aunt and get the shop ready for sale; the mysterious Stephen, living alone, clearly injured but how and where?; and along the way we meet many of the villagers who all have their own story.
The book flows along at a steady pace and I really enjoyed all of it. The characters all had their own story, and all added to village life. It reminded me of many series of books, set in a small country village, and each book focusing on a different character and throughout the series you meet lots of villagers - with a small village like this one, it would be possible to extend this book to a series, lots of potential.
I would recommend this book to all my followers, a great easy read for those summer afternoons spent relaxing.
Thank you to the publishers, Sphere, for sending me the book to review.