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Little Beach Street Bakery

My first book for September is a romance set in my home county of Cornwall. I don't read this sort of thing very often but I spotted it in the library, saw the magic word 'Cornwall' on the cover and that was it... home it came. The book is Little Beach Street Bakery and it's by Jenny Colgan.

Polly's life disintegrates around her when the business she's running with her boyfriend, Chris, collapses and they're declared bankrupt. Chris takes it very badly and the couple split up leaving Polly with no job and nowhere to go. She sees a flat for rent in Cornwall and on a whim decides to move to Mount Polbeare which, like St. Michael's Mount, becomes an island twice a day with the movement of the tides. Her best friend thinks she's mad but Polly needs to get away and re-evaluate her life.

The flat is terribly shabby but the view out to sea is amazing and it's a place where Polly can regroup and find her feet again. The island itself is a quiet haven although the tourist season is fast approaching when things will get much busier. Polly makes friends with some local fishermen and one day happens to bake some bread for them. Word gets out that she's a good baker but it brings her into conflict with her landlady who also owns the local bakery. The problem is that the bread for sale there is bought in and not that great whereas Polly's bread is home-made and delicious.

One of the fishermen, Tarnie, is clearly interested in Polly, but so is an American, Huckle, living in a remote cottage on the mainland and trying to get by by keeping bees and selling the honey. Having just split with Chris, she feels this a complication she doesn't need. What she does know is that her very limited finances will not last and that she needs to find a job. But what can she do?

Well then... as I said I don't read much of this kind of book, commonly known, I suppose, as 'chick-lit'. Not a term I like much to be honest as it feels a bit derogatory, though I'm not certain why I feel that way. Perhaps because I don't feel like a 'chick'. LOL! And anyway, in Cornwall if someone uses the word 'chick' they're more likely to be referring to a child. I digress.

The book is quite a cosy read I suppose, but it depends on how you read it. Polly loses her business and her relationship at the same time. Not at all cosy. Her former boyfriend and business partner would not communicate with her when it became clear the business was going belly up. He's a pain in arse in fact. He took his misery out on her and she struggled with it for a couple of years. Also not cosy. Information is fed to you about this throughout the book and you can't help but feel she was well rid of him.

The place she moves to is a bit like St. Michael's Mount in that it's cut off twice a day by the tide. It's not identical though as the village on the fictional island is much bigger, and reminded me more of Sennen Cove, being built on a steep hill. Whatever, it really took me back to Cornwall and that aspect was beautifully done. I could smell the sea, feel the breeze on my face, see and hear the fishing boats in the harbour and so on. The author doesn't prettify life for local people in Cornwall though. Yes, the surroundings are gorgeous but making a living is hard. People often work two or three jobs, property is expensive and tragedies happen amongst the fishing community. The elderly find it particularly hard to survive too.

Polly's bread baking habit is a delghtful and fascinating part of the book. I don't bake bread myself but know someone who does and it was really interesting to read about and follow her baking exploits. And at the back of the book are a selction of recipes for anyone who wants to give it a try.

Any negative points? Not really. The book was pretty much as I expected. I wasn't crazy about the two new men in Polly's life and I also wondered how many parents in the 1980s called their daughters 'Polly'. Surely it went out of fashion in the 1950s and has not returned... But that's just me nit-picking. The book was enjoyable, had good sense of place, and was not at all as cosy as one might think given the genre. It also turns out it's book one of a new series and book 2, Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery is just out. I shall grab it at the library if I see it and might investigate other books by Jenny Colgan.


Now, that sounds like a comfortable read. No murders, no violence (as described, at least), just trying to cope with the stuff that happens in life, in a place most of us could easily learn to love.

Polly is sort of an old fashioned name, I guess. One of my mother's sisters is called Polly, and it wasn't a nickname from Mary (I'll never figure out how that came to be: Polly for Mary), but shortened from Pauline. I even know another Pauline called Polly, so maybe it isn't all that rare even now.

A long time ago the phone connections to my childhood home were all mixed up somehow, and my mother got a call from someone asking for Polly and talking about some issues that were going on in our family... and it turned out to be a misdirected call for a man named Paul, whom the person called "Paulie" — his childhood nickname. It was all a coincidence. A weird coincidence.
I really enjoyed it. Exactly, there's nothing wrong with a story about life and its trials and tribulations with no violent murders or satanic goings on. *g*

Yes! How on earth did they get from Mary to Polly? I can honestly say I've never met a single person called Polly. Which, considering I'm in my 60s, is a bit odd. LOL

Wow, that was weird. One of those things that if you read it in a book you'd nebver believe it...