Food For Thought: Little Beach Street Bakery

7:30:00 AM

With a Dreamy Far-Off Look… And Her Nose Stuck In a Book

I decided to try something a little different for this week’s post.

No, I still have an incredibly long list of restaurants I have yet to review, but I decided to deviate from the norm this week and review a book I recently finished: Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan.

Before I start, I thought I’ll give you a little background about my love for reading. I love and have always loved reading. I use to spend hours in the library on the weekends when my mom dropped me off while she ran off to the nearby supermarket to do some shopping. I would walk through all the aisles and scan the stacks of novels, picking and choosing all the ones that interest me. I’d carry everything over to an area to read and eventually my mom would come find me. Back then, there was always a limit as to how many books you could check out and most of the time, I hit the limit.

Fast forward to high school, I spend time after school, waiting to get picked up… yes you guessed it!

The library.

My high school use to have a public library that was on campus, so a few of my friends and I got into the habit of spending a lot of time there. We’d talk, do homework and I scoured the manga sections for newly released volumes.

For the longest time, the library was a second home to me. The library was a safe haven where I had the ability to explore new worlds and go on an adventure without stepping out the comfort of a book fortress.

Over time, I’ve neglected my love of books. It’s a rubbish excuse, but school got in the way of readingnot that I wasn’t reading, just not for pleasure. Sure, I found time every now and then to squeeze in some manga or a creepy pasta here and there, but rarely was I reading a novel. I probably averaged about 5 books a year, if you don’t count manga.

And don’t even mention the library. A part of me felt guilty for hardly visiting.

Now jumping to the present day, I found myself (inadvertently) with a lot of time on my hand. I ended an internship back in April and was at home all day, while on the job search grind. So naturally, it made perfect sense to pick up where I left off. After all, books will always be there for you.

Rain or shine, it’s so easy to throw yourself into a good book.

And so, here we are.

Thankfully I like to say that I’m no longer unemployed, but I like to maintain this new relationship I rekindled with books. (I’m sorry I neglected you for so long!) Since I take public transportation to work now, I can spend my mornings and early evenings with my nose in a book.

Bread, Bees and Puffins! Oh My…

Little Beach Street Bakery takes place in Cornwall, England (and for those who are bad at geography, like me, it’s in the South West corner of England), specifically an island off of CornwallMount Polbearne.

The main character, Polly Waterford, 32, has hit rock bottom. She had declared bankruptcy for her business. Her relationship with her business partner and boyfriend was ruined and she was broke.

Much too broke to be living in the city. She crashes at her friend, Kerensa’s house, for a few days while she tries to figure things out. Kerensa, thin, successful and sassy, offers up the idea of being roommates again, but Polly turned her down stating that she rather move out than possibly ruin their friendship.

So on a whim, she decided to move out to Mount Polbearne, an island off the coast of Cornwall, where the tide dictates whether or not you go on the mainland. This means, if the tide is low, go ahead and drive or walk across the causeway, but if the tide is highwell, good luck!

Polly moves into this derelict apartment above a store that looks like it used to be a bakery. Her first few nights on the island was pretty rough and our heroine was battling everything from the elements to fly-away books and bad bread. Awful tasting bread from the only bakery on the island, who is also coincidentally ran by her landlady. Uh-oh, if you think things couldn’t get worse… she gets on the bad side of Gillian Manse.

You see, Polly loves baking and has been baking since she was young. She baked a lot as therapy when her business was slowly dissolving and her then-boyfriend, Chris was running away from his problems. So naturally, when she found herself at this strange and mysterious new island, she started to bake. At first, she was baking, simply to feed herself and because there wasn’t any other viable options when it came to baked goods. Soon, the other villagers living on the island caught whiff of the delicious breads going around and… a black market for her baked goods started.

Polly starts to make friends with everybody on the island, with her first being a puffin that rammed through the window of her house one night, scaring the hell out of her. The puffin, Neil, was only a puffling and broke his wing from the impact of the collision. Polly took him under her wing and nursed him back to health. Along the way, she made friends with the fishermen, the grocer’s lady, the vet, and even an American who lives in a cottage and also happens to be an apiarist.

A few things happen throughout the book that paves the way for Polly to open up a bakery, and I love reading about the various types of breads she bakes, from your typical white loaves to bagels and foccacia.

As her life picks up, her love life also flourishes and she has two love interests in this novel. Since our heroine is in her 30s, the scenes are fairly tamed and slowly weaved into the storyline, about half way into the book. If you’re like me and don’t care for the love scenes in novels, Little Beach Street Bakery would fare well with you.

Things get tied up neatly towards the end of the novel, even though I felt like the love line was a bit rushed. Polly attends a wedding where surprise surprise, it’s in full Star Wars attire and she seals the deal with her man. But this being a “chick-lit, popcorn fluff” novel, don’t expect the romance to be any less dramatic. And besides, Mount Polbearne isn’t the type of setting where you’d go for a dinner and movie anyways. At least not in the typical sense.

The novel is a little over 400 pages long, but it’s a quick read, something that you can easily go through in a week or less. The characters are likeable and charming and the setting transports you to the rugged coastlines of Cornwall, even while you’re sitting idly on the train, waiting for it to take you home.

One thing that threw me off was my inability to keep up with the consistency of the accents. The villagers are from Mount Polbearne, Polly is from Plymouth and the American (Huckle) is from Georgia. There are times where I was reading passages and everybody sounds like they’re speaking in a Southern accent in my head. But seeing as how I’m American and I’m not familiar with the accent in Cornwall, I am stretching it as it is, when imagining the accents.

Randomness aside, this was a fantastic read. I enjoyed it all the way through and my version of the novel also included recipes in the back, if you ever feel like replicating some of the recipes in the book. Colgan crafted a perfect book to read in the summer, if you want something light, heartwarming and enjoyable.

My one question is: the cover of the novel features a cupcake, but I don’t remember cupcakes being featured in the novel at all. Unless I forgot something… WHERE ARE THE CUPCAKES?!

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