This book was buried in my TBR pile until last weekend when I was full of a cold and couldn't think of anything I'd rather do than snuggle up in bed with some Buttercup Syrup and a bit of Jenny Colgan.
What a brilliant, brilliant read this was. Truly. I think a lot of Jenny's earlier books are kind of 'Bam! Funny stuff! Bam, Bam! Someone trips over!' (which I love and will always love) but this was so much more considered and poignant. The writing was confident and sparkly and I felt instantly like this book was going to take good care of me. As a reviewer it becomes quite natural to read with a critical eye, always conscious of what you're going to put in your review, looking out for plot holes and wishy washy characters… This book would not let me do that; I couldn't help but relax into it and enjoy it in the same way I enjoyed books as a child – greedily and with utter joy.
It's been a while since I rooted for a character the way I rooted for Rosie Hopkins. She's a bit of an under-achiever, has an overgrown child for a boyfriend and is unsure of where she's headed but, in spite of that, she's positive and funny and scrappy.
While there was plenty of romance (lovely, brooding Stephen, dashing Moray and hot farm boy Jake were a pleasure to read) in the traditional sense, the main love story of this novel was between Rosie and her Great Aunt Lily. In many of my favourite romantic comedies, the two main characters are clearly made for each other but have to overcome internal and external conflicts to end up together. Jenny did this really well in Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams; I can't imagine anyone but plucky Rosie attempting to restore Lily back to health, and Lily was exactly what Rosie needed at that unsure point in her life. Some of the scenes between these two made me cry and plenty of them made me laugh. What a perfect pair they were!
I think there are plenty of other things about this book that I could point out in order to get across to you how marvellous it was (the 1940s story thread, Eddison and his mum, the sweet recipes to name a few), but you ought to find out for yourself. I feel like I can wholeheartedly recommend this to you regardless of what sub-genres or other authors of women's fiction you might be into. I simply cannot imagine anyone not loving this one to pieces.
(If you don't believe me check out the Amazon reviews!)