Welcome to Rosie Hopkins's Sweetshop of Dreams is indeed just that - a sweet dreamy read!
Welcome to Rosie Hopkins's Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan
Sourcebooks // August 5, 2014
paperback, 432 pgs
source: ARC from the publisher
About the book:
Rose is about to get a taste of the sweet life.
Rosie Hopkins's life is... comfortable. She has a steady nursing job, a nice apartment, and Gerard, her loyal (if a bit boring) boyfriend. And even though she might like to pursue a more rewarding career, and Gerard doesn't seem to have any plans to propose, Rosie's not complaining. Things could be worse. Right?
Life gets a bit more interesting when Rosie's mother sends her out to the country to care for her ailing great aunt Lilian, who owns an old-fashioned sweetshop. But as Rosie gets Lilian back on her feet, breathes a new life into the candy shop, and gets to know the mysterious and solitary Stephen—whose family seems to own the entire town—she starts to think that settling for what's comfortable might not be so great after all.
What a lovely read! Sweetshop of Dreams is a beautifully written story of a young woman finding herself. Rosie's life isn't bad, but it isn't good either. It is comfortable, and if we're being honest, boring. On the wrong side of 30, Rosie realizes that maybe this isn't quite where she pictured herself- with a busy job and a boring boyfriend who is more like a teenage boy than a man you'd want to marry. Then suddenly her mother calls her and tasks her to help out her old Great Aunt Lillian and her failing Sweetshop out in the English countryside. Rosie of course winds up going, and this family matter becomes exactly what she needs to wake up and see what life is really all about.
A typical chick lit (and I say that in the fondest of ways) Rosie's Sweetshop of Dreams is another coming of age tale. The difference here is that the setting is unique and the writing is superb. The book is also sprinkled with excerpts from Lillian Hopkins's book - each chapter begins with a snippet from the characters book, and this adds the perfect amount of flair and interest to this novel to set it apart.
Rosie and Lillian are both lovely characters. Rosie is a typically developed character, but it was Lillian that I truly loved. Her story was woven into the novel through flashbacks to her teenage years in addition to her current state - a grumpy old spinster. Lillian is rough around the edges but you see her sweetness shine through thanks to Colgan's ingenious writing style.
The other cast of players are given just enough development to keep the reader interested, as well as remember who is who. To me, this is a sign of an excellent author, especially if I can keep a cast of characters organized in a 400+ page book with lots going on.
The story is fairly typical, but like I said earlier, the setting is what sets it apart from the rest in this category. The coming of age tale is often overdone, but Colgan uses a fresh place and a whimsical (yet believable) backdrop with the Sweetshop. She did well describing the sweets and the shop - I could fully envision them in my mind.. which is saying something considering I'm not a sweet tooth kind of girl. I also surprisingly found myself craving old school sweets while reading - she brought it all to life is such a compelling manner. The details that Colgan supplies when the Sweetshop (or the sweets) show up is done masterfully. Every little bit was described, but done so in a way that wasn't monotonous. All of those details really draw the reader in, making us feel comfortable and connected to this little town, Rosie & Lillian, and the Hopkins's Sweetshop. I could easily imagine myself strolling through Lipton. This is one of the things that sets this book apart.
Aside from great character development and a beautiful (but normal!) setting, the choices that Rosie makes and the drama that unfolds are interesting and engaging. Yes there is a man, yes there is love and tears, yes there is drama - but aren't all those things what makes a good romance fun?? Sweetshop of Dreams IS indeed fun. I laughed at Rosie (and with her) while she bumbled through this new and exciting upheaval in her life. I didn't cry, but I did get a bit choked up about some of the romantic details and the trials she was facing - because lets face it, most of us have been there. Bored but comfortable - only to be shook up and turned on to a new scary adventure. It is that, my friends, which makes Rosie Hopkins's Sweet of Dreams a good chick lit - it is relate-able without being tired. I found myself hoping for the best for both Rosie and Lillian... and because of that simple and pure fact, I couldn't put this book down. It was a steady paced novel that still managed to keep me guessing- and turning the page.
I absolutely recommend this book. Jenny Colgan has many novels, so I would hope that if you've read her other material, you would run out and grab this. For those of you, like me, who have not yet read any Jenny Colgan, I encourage you to do so. It is a fresh and welcome twist to your typical chick lit that leaves the reader satisfied. I know I will be reading more of Jenny's work soon!
About the author:
A former columnist for The Guardian, Jenny Colgan contributes regularly to national BBC radio and is the bestselling author of more than eleven novels. She is married with three children and lives in London and France.
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow
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