Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

sweetchopbookPhil: Who knew chick-lit could vary so much? My previous dabbles in the genre were quite hard-core compared to this sugary little number from Jenny Colgan.

Rosie Hopkin is an agency nursing auxiliary who finds herself between contracts. As it happens, her aunt Lillian is old and poorly. As far as Rosie’s family are concerned, what is required is someone to go and look after Lillian, move her to a home and then flog the cottage and business to fund this. Rosie finds herself moving from London to the fictional village of Lipton expecting to spend a short and dull few weeks organising the aged relative.

You’ll not be surprised to discover that things don’t pan out quite as expected. The locals turn out to be more interesting than expected. Rosie falls in love with the shop and a few other things. Lillian has her own back story that influences Rosie’s decisions – in fact we find the two tales running alongside each other for much of the book. While Rosie’s story is the backbone of the book, Lillian’s is revealed gradually until the two come together at the end.

A classic “fish out of water” story but none the worse for it. At 468 pages, it’s a whopper of a book but I couldn’t see anything that could have been left out, not even the discussions on old sweets at the start of each chapter. In fact my only complain is that the stupid italic and heavily seriefed font used for Lillians bits is quite difficult to read. That’s a bad thing as Colgan obviously specialises in the sort of comfortable reading that will appeal to older readers who don’t want anything cutting edge or with big dollops of shagging (there is one dollop here but it’s tastefully written and doesn’t overstay its welcome) and I bet they really struggle with it. Some MacMonkey at the book designers wants a slap for this.

I suppose the characters are a bit cartoony, your lady of the manor and horny handed sons of the soil are pretty standard. Having said this, most have a back story that adds depth and is nicely pulled together by the end of the book. You do care about them although I struggled to build a mental picture of Rosie. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention but I don’t know what she looks like apart from curly dark hair and a curvy figure. The ending does everything you want but with a few twists and turns along the way.

Enjoyable? Yes. Very pleasant and just the thing for holiday reading. There’s a story about a cake shop that I might just have to find. For research purposes of course.

Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams at Amazon

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