It’s Christmas in the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne – a time for family, friends and feasting. When Polly’s not creating delicious treats in the Little Beach Street bakery, she’s cuddled up with her gorgeous boyfriend, Huckle. But when a storm cuts the village off from the mainland, can the villagers work together to save Christmas for everybody?
I’ve read (and loved) a few of Jenny Colgan’s novels, but only one of the Little Beach Street Bakery books so far. I was looking forward to getting back into this series, aware this is supposed to be the last book following Polly, and eagerly anticipating a feel-good, fun story.
Polly is a great character, and and easy one to like, as is Huckle (most of the time, though there are a few times when I wanted to bang both his and Polly’s heads together!), and of course Neil the Puffin is still very adorable! However (and here comes a bit of a rant, so I’ll try not to give anything crucial away)… most of the other characters seemed pretty unlikable in my mind! For example, I despised Reuben! He was rude, irritating, self-centered and, though he may have his moments when he comes through as a nice guy, mostly seemed like a pretty crap friend and husband. He does redeem himself slightly at the end but I really didn’t like him, which was a shame – maybe this would be different if I’d read Summer at the Beach Street Bakery, too?
Reuben’s family were all quite horrible too, so I suppose you can see where Reuben gets his personality from! And Polly’s great-grandmother (so her estranged dad’s parents) sound pretty horrendous too, judging by the way they treated their son’s wife because of her ethnicity. I know that Polly knows all their faults, so you do still feel like you can empathise with her and still enjoy the story, but it made the novel a little more tense, which I suppose does add to the heightened tension.
The rest of the story is fairly slow-paced but entertaining, with some humour thrown in and the odd drama (of course!). As with the first novel, I could just imagine what it must be like to live in Mount Polbearne; Jenny Colgan really paints a strong picture in the reader’s mind and makes you want to go and visit for yourself, if only it were a real place! It certainly evoked a real sense of what Cornwall must be like in my mind, and I enjoyed reading about Polly’s escapades in this magical place, especially the rather lovely incident that happens at the end.
Overall I think something about the story just fell a bit flat for me unfortunately. Most of Jenny Colgan’s novels that I’ve previously read (The Little Beach Street Bakery, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams, The Good, The Good, The Bad And The Dumped, West End Girls & Operation Sunshine) have been very enjoyable and reinforced my view that Jenny Colgan is a great feel-good writer, but some are better than others. I think my favourite is Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams.
For fans of this series, and anyone who enjoys a lighthearted and easy read, this is a good pick, but I personally prefer some of her other series – but it’s still an entertaining read and was a nice break for me among the many thrillers I’ve read recently.