Have you heard of Jenny Colgan? Better still, have you read her fiction?
I just completed her novel, THE LITTLE BEACH STREET BAKERY, a mainstream book about a young woman struggling to restart her life after bankruptcy and a breakup with her long-time lover. She rents a place in a rickety building in a Cornish fishing village and finds solace and healing in the baking of bread.
Over the years, I’ve read so many books along similar themes — often featuring a divorced woman embittered by the shattering of her comfortable existence who then drifts through a plotless series of encounters with new characters.
I call such books the “Plotless Wonders” because so many of them go nowhere and simply let the protagonist wallow in angst, dive into destructive behavior, and muddle through some kind of pointless love affair that renders her more miserable.
However, Colgan’s novel was a pleasant surprise. It’s mainstream but it does have a plot. The protagonist is unhappy at first, but she moves forward in a positive, life-affirming way. There are sad parts to this book, and there are happy sections. She is kind and generous, not bitter. She grieves. She accepts. She makes a new life for herself. She even manages to strike a truce — eventually — with her antagonist.
I must say that my heart will forever belong to the charming little character Neil, who stole every scene and thoroughly enchanted me.
If you want a refreshing take on women’s fiction for this summer’s vacation read, give this a try. If nothing else, enjoy the loving depiction of bread and baking that kept my mouth watering.