Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop by Jenny Colgan
|Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop by Jenny Colgan|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Fairhead|
|Summary: Light and amusing women's fiction, ideal Christmas reading.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 390||Date: November 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
Rosie Hopkins lives with her boyfriend Stephen in the village of Lipton, and we meet them first on a winter’s evening, with snow gently falling on the picturesque buildings around their cottage. Or, rather, Rosie’s great aunt Lilian’s cottage. For Rosie is a town girl who came to look after Lilian some time previously. Lilian has moved to a lovely care home, and Rosie runs her traditional sweet shop.
This book is a sequel - to one with an equally unwieldy title, ‘Welcome To Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop Of Dreams’ - but as the author tells us in a prologue, it really doesn’t matter. She provides a quick overview of the first book, explaining all that needs to be known, and indeed it proved to be sufficient. Or, nearly so. I could get right into the story immediately, and had little problem remembering who was whom from the fairly large cast of characters. But there were some moments when I felt a bit like a newcomer in a room of old friends: they’re all welcoming and friendly, but I’m aware of missing out on the nostalgia of their shared history.
But back to the book. Stephen, who has a somewhat overprotective upper-class mother, is just about to start work as a primary school teacher. He’s been through a very traumatic experience and is only slowly recovering, but Rosie (whose training is in nursing) does what she can to help, while trying to avoid being seen as his private nurse.
Rosie then learns that her equally eccentric mother plans to visit her for Christmas, flying from Australia with Rosie’s brother, his wife, and their three young children. But she can’t quite bring herself to tell Stephen about it…
The story moves forward apace, balancing Rosie’s worries with her day-to-day work, Stephen’s early days in the school, and also some insights into Lilian’s feelings about her care home and her family. The small village setting means that everyone knows everyone else, and it was fairly easy to feel almost as if I were a part of Rosie’s life for a few weeks.
While most of the minor characters are somewhat caricatured, and the plot is full of dramatic, even clichéd situations - among others: a nerdy child whose ‘earth mother’ is about to have a new baby, a lovely gay doctor, a horrific car crash, a confused elderly man, a threat to the school, a blinding snowstorm - it’s a very readable book which makes ideal reading in the runup to Christmas. And there are some quite moving sections too; I particularly enjoyed the rapport that developed between Rosie and her small superhero-loving niece.
Fluffy chick-lit? Undoubtedly. With a satisfying, if predictable ending. I thought it well-written, as well as mildly amusing in places, and with a bonus of entirely avoiding explicit intimacy, even though there’s a bit more bad language than I’m comfortable with. It’s not a story that will stick in my mind, and it didn’t make me pause to ponder or even wish the book were longer; but it was a pleasant read which I enjoyed, with the added bonus of some simple sweet recipes at the back. I shall be looking out for more books by this author.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending this book to The Bookbag.
It would be worth reading Welcome To Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop Of Dreams before this, although not necessary. For a more thoughtful novel by the same author, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris is a good read. And don't forget the classic Chocolat by Joanne Harris
You can read more book reviews or buy Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop by Jenny Colgan at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop by Jenny Colgan at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.