Jenny Colgan returns to the blog with the second in her Summer Seaside Kitchen, set on the isolated Scottish island of Mure. Please read on for my review of
The Endless Beach
You can’t go into a book from Jenny Colgan expecting fast-paced action or never ending tension, her stories are subtle and take the time to develop an atmosphere that fairly envelops you in a little cocoon, pushing all present worries and distractions to the side. Such is the case as we return to visit with Flora, newly returned to her home island of Mure, and the changes brought by the brash American, Colton’s appearance on the island. With Colton, now wholly having claimed a piece of her younger brother Fintan’s heart, and Flora becoming closer to Joel, another American and Colton’s attorney. Of course, in the time away there have been changes, most notable the new doctor on the island, Saif, a Syrian refugee and his never-ending hopefulness that his wife and sons will be found and they will be reunited. Lorna, Flora’s best friend and head of the lower school is still struggling with the dwindling number of enrolled students, her single status, the lack of available men on the island, and her growing attraction to Saif. Of course, life on the island is a struggle for everyone: hopes that Colton’s project, The Rock, would bring prosperity, new tourism and the locals a steady source of income providing produce, dairy and seafood to the resort. But, with the resort remaining unopened, and Colton obviously up to his ears in business, meaning Joel is working endless hours on issues he can’t (and won’t) discuss or entertain questions about, things are balancing on a knife’s edge for Flora in the café, and personally.
Three distinct stories are told here: Colton and Fintan and their growing relationship, Flora’s struggles with her relationship with Joel and the choices she made in coming home, and the story from Saif – the heartbreak and not-knowing the fate of his wife and sons, his family or the ever-present fear that somehow, someone will tell him he’s unfit to be in the UK. Each story manages to be intriguing and engaging, heartbreaking and wholly hopeful that things will, if not in the ideal ‘this is what dreams are made of” way, will work out in the next best way possible. The story is a bit like a lost and found room in a busy terminal: Saif’s lost wife and children, Fintan’s finding love with Colton, Joel losing his self-obsession, Flora finding the piece of herself long buried….. Not always full of happy moments, the situations, concerns and even the challenges feel real and present, particularly when Saif’s boys are returned to him and he’s struggling with parenting, assimilation and even what it means to and for him in the life he’s trying to rebuild. Flora and her struggles with the success of the café without The Rock being open and bringing her regular custom without the long hours and influx of tourists in the summer season. The remove she feels from Joel, who seems to constantly see her as ‘the selkie girl’, yet not looking further, or allowing her into his secrets: all of which bring them further apart with longing and self-doubt being the only constant.
So much life and living packed into this story in this small community: from little daily struggles to the biggest questions of acceptance, purpose and healing that each character draws, from residents to the small groups of underprivileged boys from the mainland that are brought to spend time in the wilderness with Charlie and Jan, there’s a magic on Mure that seems to take root in the hearts and minds of each person, making changes large and small to how they move forward. With lovely insets of Eck walking his son down the aisle to his hoped-for happy ever after in the first (that they know) gay wedding on Mure, to the ‘wildebeast’ four-year old Agot, known mostly for speaking in ALL CAPS, yet with an unwavering ability to draw the reluctant into her circle, or provide a needed cuddle when someone is sad – this isn’t a story that is easy to explain, but hard to forget. Disappear for a few hours to Mure in The Café by the Sea, then take a wander on The Endless Beach. The beach that runs the length of the island, withstanding tides, storms and providing a connection that ties the whole island together……
Title: The Endless Beach
Author: Jenny Colgan
Series: Summer Seaside Kitchen
Also in this series: The Cafe by the Sea
Genre: Assimilation, Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Family Saga, Magic, Refugee Stories, Setting: Scotland
Published by: William Morrow
Published on: 22 May, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 10 Hours
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: