As you will probably have noticed practically everything I read has an element of the ‘fantastical’ about it. Either aliens or zombies or invading, or victorian women are investigating mysterious curses in shadowy castles, or the question of reality is in itself queried.
However I saw Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan in the library and suddenly had the desire for some chick lit. I went through a bit of a chick lit reading phase about 10 years ago but wandered away from it towards fantasy instead, getting sick of the same same plots and not at all identifying with the characters.
The back of the book looked appealing and as soon as I started I was hooked. I think i read it over only a few days. Rosie Hopkins works all hours in a hospital in London and lives in a small flat with her long term boyfriend. When a family emergency arises, Rosie ends up going to stay with her elderly aunt Lilian who runs a sweetshop in rural Derbyshire. Not only do we follow Rosie we also follow the story of Lilian back in 1942 which added a whole extra, yet intertwined, story to the book. I don’t want to give much away but it really is very good. There are good times and heartache, bicycles, vegetable patches, grumpy old ladies, the importance of having a good coat, a mystery in the dark house on the hill, and lots and lots of sweets. Oh and recipes too!
Old fashioned sweetshops are just magical, although i am of the generation of the plastic jars rather than the beautiful glass ones, i remember going in and buying quarters of giant strawberries, cola bottles and pint pots. (beer sweets – how exciting is that to a child!). We have proper old fashioned sweet shops in town, and one of the great thing about being an adult is that you can justifiably go in and spend a fiver on all sorts and then eat them all over the weekend without having to answer to anyone.
Christmas at Rosie Hopkins Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan. As soon as I finished the first book i immediately got on the library catalogue for the sequel. It had not long been published so every copy was out and i put myself on the waiting list to reserve a copy. I was immensely lucky and got the book within a week and then read the whole thing over the weekend.
Now I can’t give too much away here because I really want you to read the first one. (p.s. don’t read the back of this one before you’ve read the first one – my mistake – as it gives some stuff away). However, this book is set a year later and follows how Rosie is getting along and what she is doing for christmas. Firstly her family announces they will be arriving from Austrailia and then practically everything you can imagine happening in a telly christmas special, happens (but in a really really well written way). Thats all I can say really except that you won’t be able to put it down.
Before this i had only read one Jenny Colgan novel; Talking to Addison which i got free with a magazine many many years ago. I really enjoyed it (its about a florist who falls for a computer geek) but somehow never read another. This was Jenny’s second novel. I think there is something very personal about reading, you either take to the heroine or you don’t. Sometimes you read and you either don’t care about or don’t understand the main character but I must Jenny Colgan’s girls so far :) This spring her new book The Beach Street Bakery is being published and its on my wishlist already.