I can’t resist a novel from Jenny Colgan – and you shouldn’t either. Going into the way back into her list for a title first published in 2012, I was delighted to obtain the first in the Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop series, narration provided by Beverly A. Crick. Please read on for my review of
Sweetshop of Dreams
When you have two women, separated by miles and generations, but both in need of change and purpose, you have a story that can reach out and wrap its arms around you, gradually leaving you with a smile and plenty of sweet dreams. Such is the story of Rosie Hopkins, as she leaves her rather ‘samey’ life in London to take care of an elderly great aunt in the little Derbyshire town of Lipton. With an eight-year relationship with Gerald that is going nowhere fast, mostly due to his selfishness and her willingness to ignore the bad bits and bend over backwards to accommodate his frequent (and often childish) requests, her great-aunt’s need for someone to help sort out her care and disposition of the little sweet shop in Lipton. Rosie’s mum Angela, having left for Australia to skivvy for her son’s children (and picking up an accent that borders on caricature), having pushed the issue – Rosie is soon heading off on the bus to help out the woman she barely remembers- Lillian.
Arriving to find the shop closed, obviously for years, and Lillian unwelcoming and unwilling to ‘ask’ for help, Rosie sets in to her tasks: getting Lillian fed, up and about, and fixing a diet that appeared to be nearly all sweets with healthy, varied and regular meals. The two are, not surprisingly, very similar: Lillian’s story and how she became a near recluse with a non-operational sweet shop and no family: prickly, fiercely independent even to her detriment, and Rosie’s second-guessing and making accommodations for a very unworthy Gerald. As Rosie experiences “the country’ for the first time – she’s got a ton of missteps, mishaps and damsel-in-distress moments, for which several different people come to her aid. From the farm-hand / bicycle repairman, to Moray the younger of two doctors and Steven – a patient that Moray brought Rosie to see, thinking she could make steps to getting him healed and helped, she’s busily working out her new place, her dreams and even the possibility of staying in Lipton, without the security of Gerald (who isn’t leaving her feeling very secrete) and perhaps find new purpose.
Narration for this story is provided by Beverley A. Crick, and I was pleasantly surprised at the growth and improvement in her work – gone are the odd pauses and indistinct character voices, missing both the sense of enjoyment and emotion that should come from the listen. Instead, she’s managed to give a series of distinctly appropriate character voices, from the more proper received pronunciation of Lililan, to Rosie’s London-twang, Angie’s rather over the top Aussie-nasal flair, and the northern hints of locals: each distinct and feeling very much like their personalities are developing, bringing a sense of who each person is and how they relate to one another, and to Rosie. The lovely insets from Lilian’s Book of Sweets, detailing different sweets, comparing and contrasting start each chapter- bringing classic old-fashioned sweets and flavors to mind . A wonderfully layered story of growth, finding yourself and redefining your purpose – perfect for a summer listen, or a weekend curled up with your favorite treats.
Stars: Overall 5 Narration 4 Story 5
Title: Sweetshop of Dreams
Author: Jenny Colgan
Series: Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop #1
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Food / Recipes, Setting: Britain
Narrator: Beverly A. Crick
Published by: Sourcebooks Landmark, Tantor Audio
Published on: 27 February, 2018
Source: Tantor Audio
Audio Length: 12 Hours: 50 minutes
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Rosie Hopkins thinks leaving her busy London life, and her boyfriend Gerard, to sort out her elderly Aunt Lilian's sweetshop in a small country village is going to be dull. Boy, is she wrong.
Rosie's life is . . . comfortable. 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?
Lilian Hopkins has spent her life running Lipton's sweetshop, through wartime and family feuds. When her great-niece Rosie arrives to help her with the shop, Lilian struggles with the idea that it might finally be time to settle up, and wrestles with the secret history hidden behind the jars of beautifully colored sweets.
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.
Winner of the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2013
A copy of this title was provided via Tantor Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.