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This is a story about a young woman who goes to stay with an elderly aunt in Derbyshire . At first I was not sure about this book because I thought it was going to be about old age and care homes and when you are in your fifties, as I am, maybe this is not very cheerful subject matter to be reading. How ever I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with this book and I found it funny and uplifting.
The main characters are Rosie Hopkins and her aunt Lilian.
Rosie is a young woman living with her long term boyfriend in London. She works as an auxiliary nurse and she loves her job. Rosie thinks she is happy with her life but she does have doubts about her boyfriend Gerard who does not show her any commitment. Now into her thirties Rosie is beginning to think about marriage and children.
One day out of the blue she gets a phone call from her mother who lives with her new family in Australia. Her mother tells her that old aunt Lilian who lives in Derbyshire is getting old and frail and needs some help with selling her home and her sweetshop so that she can afford to go into a comfortable care home. Rosie is the only person in the family who would be able to help Lilian so she goes to stay in Derbyshire to see what she can do to help her aunt.
When she gets there she soon gets to work on the long neglected sweetshop that has been in the family for years. She also finds some new romantic interests and this makes her think twice about her relationship with Gerard who has gone back to his mothers house while Rosie is away. Gerard appears to be having fun going out
every night with his mates
Although Lilian is about 50 years older than Rosie and about to go into a care home she still has her wits about her with a few surprises up her sleeve. Most of Lilian`s story is told in the past , in the 1940`s, as a young woman living in a small village during the war years. She tells of the competitive girls who are left behind when all the young men are sent to fight in the war. Lilian has her eye on a young man but it seems like her biggest rival has got there first. She tells of the heartbreak of getting the dreaded telegram saying that one of hers brothers has been killed. Lilian had three brothers who all went to war while Lilian stayed behind with her father and ran the family sweetshop.
I am old enough to remember the old fashioned sort of sweetshop that used to be joined onto the owners home. Often these shop keepers would adapt a spare room at the front of their house to run as a shop and many of these would be sweetshops. You would walk in and the first thing you would notice is the lovely sweetshop smell. As you walked through the door a bell would jingle and someone would appear as if by magic from behind a curtain at the back of the shop. There would be jars of colourful cheerful looking sweets in the window and along the walls. You would choose what sweets you wanted and the shopkeeper would weigh them out for you. I can remember buying sweets like Black Jacks, Rhubarb and custard, Cough Candy, BonBons etc.
Of course nowadays most of these small shops are gone and if you want to buy sweets you have to get them from the supermarket or perhaps the newsagents.
Reading this story brought on a wave of nostalgia for me and made me realise how much our experience of shopping has been changed over the years.
This book was not just about sweets and nostalgia it was also about romance, peoples life choices , and most impotantly , the future, well, for Rosie and Lilian anyway.
This book was first published in Great Britain by Sphere in 2012
To find out more, use the link below
It was written by Jenny Colgan, find out more
Rosie Hopkins is reluctant to leave her beloved London, a live-in boyfriend of eight years Gerard and her work as auxiliary nurse. But when an elderly aunt who had spent her life running a traditional sweetshop in a small village in the North of England becomes just too elderly to cope, Rosie surprises everybody - even herself - by taking up the challenge. A 100% townie who can't ride a bike and doesn't seem to own a waterproof, a pair of wellies or even walking boots, Rosie soon discovers that the countryside has its charms, not least of which is the local supply of masculine eye candy. Soon she will find herself re-opening the shop (just to sell it as a running concern, you understand) as well as somewhat accidentally, saving and enriching lives all around, from a lady of the manor's Lab to her own dignified, but possessed of an acid tongue, great aunt Lillian.
Jenny Colgan is one of the queens of British chick-lit and, unlike many writers in this fuzzily delineated genre, she managed to avoid the formulaic-books-from-template trap that must be very tempting for any successful writer of popular fiction. For a long time, her (very) bitter, (hilariously) funny and (not too) sweet ''Amanda's Wedding'' was my favourite chick-lit novel, and although her further novels didn't quite match up to that one (perhaps with an exception of a totally unheard-of chick-lit novel about a boy, with magic) they were always very readable, entertaining and unexpectedly touching. And so is ''Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams''.
Let's make it clear from the start: Proper Literature it is not, but then it never intended to be. This last Colgan offering is full of standard plot devices not to say clichés: a city girl coming to the countryside, a mummy's darling boyfriend who never pops the question, an intelligent child with a pushy mother (clearly a cousin of Bertie from ''44 Scotland Street'' but no less an attractive character for that), an old spinster remembering a lost love, a woman getting her life out of a rut as a side effect of a total change of scene; and so on. By rights, it should be a very annoying collection of clichés. And that sweetshop! Such a perfect vehicle for for nostalgia that the books could have easily been sickly-sweet and mawkishly nauseous. But it's not. Nostalgia is there all right, but the sickly-sweetness is almost entirely avoided thanks to humour, alternately down-to-earth (in the main storyline) and ironically sharp (in the excerpts from Lillian's book: ''Sweets, The User Manual'' which start each chapter).
I grew up in Poland and thus with an entirely different set of nostalgia triggers and consider many sweets referenced in ''Sweetshop of Dreams'' quite unremarkable or downright horrid, a kind of thing you must grow up with to possibly like. Despite that, or maybe because of that, I actually found all the candy-related material fascinating. And the clichéd - or let's just call them tried-and-tested - plot devices and characters work beautifully in creating an entertaining, charming whole in which the overall direction was entirely predictable and yet it was quite unclear how and by what twists it would develop.
I did, however, think that Lillian's back-story from the 1940s was completely unnecessary, very boring and totally predictable. I kept expecting it to come up with something relevant to Rosie's adventures, but it just petered out in a very bland way. The same plot and character development in the contemporary storyline could have been achieved with just a couple of reminiscences, letters or flashbacks.
Apart from that, I thoroughly enjoyed ''Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams''. The heroine was mostly likeable (I often find chick-lit female characters unbearable), the romance was understated, the other characters fun and interesting, the jokes funny and the setting utterly charming.
Definitely recommended for a cosy sofa-bound Sunday (or any other time when you might feel like you'd rather be on a cosy sofa).
I absolutely loved Jenny Colgans last novel 'Meet me at the cupcake café' so when I saw that she was bringing out a new book which looked like it may be slightly similar I pre-ordered it and was very pleased when it arrived!
Rosie Hopkins lives in London and works as an agency nurse after finding it difficult to get full time employment. She and her partner Gerard have recently purchased a flat and although it isn't perfect, prices are high in London so they are going to make a few changes. Her and Gerard have been together for years and whilst all her friends seem to be getting married and having babies, Rosie feels that she's happy as she is, isn't she?
When Rosie receives a call from her mother in Australia her heart sinks - she wants her to go and care for an elderly aunt in Derbyshire. Rosie hardly knows this aunt and just has vague memories of her bringing sweets when they were children. But her mother's mind is made up, she feels that as Rosie doesn't really have a 'proper job' she can easily go and should go.
Rosie doesn't want to go but does as she's told, packs a bag and sets off on the long journey to Derbyshire. After a long journey on the train she boards the bus to get to her aunts village. The weather is terrible - very foggy and cold and the village looks pretty quiet, how is Rosie going to live here for the next few weeks?
I had very high expectations for this book because I had loved Meet me at the cupcake café so much. After reading the description of the book I realised that although it was a different story with a different plot there were some similarities so I knew I would enjoy it. Despite the immediate similarities I found that the book was actually quite different to MMATCC and I didn't find myself making many connections throughout the book. The characters and location are completely different to MMATCC so if you haven't read it then picking up this book is absolutely fine as it is just like picking up any other new publication off of the shelf.
I immediately fell in love with the character of Rosie. She seemed very down to earth and I found that her family maybe took her for granted a little bit and she also felt as though her family didn't really believe in her, especially where her career was concerned - there were always small jibes about how she didn't work full time and how she wasn't really employed properly. From the offset it was apparent that Rosie wasn't entirely happy with her life however it was also easy to understand that she didn't want to leave her home and everything she knew just for a few weeks.
The plot of the book was a really feel good type, there wasn't a great deal of action going on but there was plenty to keep the readers interest as Rosie embarked upon her working holiday in Derbyshire.
Rosie's aunt, Lillian was a wonderful character. Throughout the book there were also small recollections from Lillian when she was a young woman which helped to break up the story and also gave us as the reader a sort of mini plot to follow as well. It also allowed us to get to know Lillian a bit better which in turn helped us to understand her a little more.
The plot flowed well and we witness progression in a number of aspects as the book went on. There wasn't any dull moments throughout the book and I felt as though I was actually there with Rosie living out her day to day life. The ending was the right one and although I had predicted what was going to happen there were many moments leading up to the ending where I did wonder if I was actually going to be right.
I thought that the book was the perfect length as it allowed Rosie to tell her story but was not long winded. The chapters were of a good length, they could usually be read in half an hour which I liked because if I had half an hour spare I knew I could get through a chapter.
The writing style was laid back and relaxed using informal language. This is my preferred writing style as it allows me to feel as though we are actually there with Rosie and to me personally it makes everything appear a little more realistic.
At the opening of each chapter there is a recipe for some kind of sweets which fits in with the theme of the book nicely. A lot of these recipes are for the older fashioned sweets such as peanut brittle which is nice because it allows readers to both reminisce about them and also to make them if they wish to. Within the recipes there are also a few facts about the different sweets such as where they got their name from which I found interesting and I did learn some things from reading them!
The book is written by Jenny Colgan.
It was published on 29th March 2012 by Sphere.
It has 496 pages.
Currently on Amazon the paperback is selling for £3.86 whilst the kindle version is £4.49.
As you can probably tell from my review I really enjoyed this book. I loved the character of Rosie and also her aunt, Lillian. I couldn't wait to see their story unfold and although I was keen to get to the ending, I also didn't want the book to end! I've recently learned that a sequel to MMATCC - Christmas at the Cupcake café is being released in Autumn 2012 so I am hoping that Jenny Colgan might decide to do something similar with Rosie's story.
I felt that the story was very strong and I liked the laid back writing style that Jenny Colgan uses. The book will appeal to any lovers of chick-lit or sweets! If you are a fan of Trisha Ashley's work then I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to you because it does follow the same sort of genre.
Were you a sherbet lemon or chocolate lime fan? Penny chews or hard boiled sweeties (you do get more for your money that way)? The jangle of your pocket money . . . the rustle of the pink and green striped paper bag . . . 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. Lilian Hopkins has spent her life running Lipton's sweetshop, through wartime and family feuds. As she struggles with the idea that it might finally be time to settle up, she also wrestles with the secret history hidden behind the jars of beautifully coloured sweets. Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams - a novel - with recipes.
After reading (and loving) my first Jenny Colgan novel last year, Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe, I was really, really keen to read to read her brand new novel, especially as it sounded like it was going to be about sweets... how could you go wrong?! The cover is fantastic, red with the teal foil highlights for the lettering, and I think it is certainly going to be a book that people will want to pick up and find out more about, especially thanks to that tantalising title! I have to say I found this book better than Colgan's last release, and that's certainly saying something considering how great that book was, and I ploughed through this book in just a few days because I was in love with the characters, and the interesting way in which it was written, it really did keep me hooked. I have to say as well, whether you're a fan of sweets or not, do read this book because it's a joy!
The book tells the tale, funnily enough, of Rosie Hopkins, and her sudden move from London to the countryside where her ailing, elderly Aunt Lilian is living alone, and needs Rosie's help. Rosie is reluctant to leave her job as auxiliary nurse in a busy city hospital, and boyfriend Gerard behind, but does so for her family, especially mother Angie. When she gets there, she finds Lilian's sweet shop closed and it looks like it hasn't been open for a while, and Lilian is in a fairly bad way too. Rosie struggles to get used to country life, every knowing everyone elses business, but befriends the local doctor, and ends up with stroppy local patient Stephen to tend to. Rosie is determined to get Lilian's shop ready for selling, and sets about making it look brand new, but ends up falling in love with it herself. I loved Rosie straight away, she's the perfect heroine for a book, and is so loveable, there's nothing at all to fault about her!
Rosie is all about her family, which is a good message to send out, and helps Lilian out even though the pair barely know each other. I liked that Rosie didn't take any nonsense from her elderly Aunt, and found the pair to be quite the comedy duo as the book went on, with both girls giving as good as they got! I especially enjoyed reading about Rosie's escapades with the locals in the village, some hilarious moments did make me laugh out loud, and I found it so easy to read. Lilian herself was a great character, clearly troubled by events that happened in her past, but reading her unfolding relationship with her niece was fantastic, and I really liked the stroppy old woman by the end of it! These two were definitely the main characters, but there were a few others who were important too, such as Rosie's hideous boyfriend Gerard, just an awful character and I could not understand for the life of me why Rosie let him treat her that way! Moray the local doc was lovely, a really friendly face for Rosie in the book, and I loved their scenes together, and the medical issues that came up were well written too, I enjoyed the realism of those.
Now to the sweet shop. Well what can you say? Colgan has clearly done her research (lucky her!) about all manner of sweets, old and new and so many make an appearance in the book that it makes for fantastic reading! As well as mentioning the sweets in the shop, Colgan has introduced extracts from a book Lilian wrote about sweets, which has real recipes in it too if you fancy trying those out, and they sound amazing! I found the extracts at the beginning of the chapter were funny and enlightening, and added something a bit different to the book. I also really enjoyed the descriptions of the sweet shop, from the fancy chocolate boxes to the big glass jars lined up on the shelves... it sounded like heaven! Another thing I want to mention about this book was the way it was told. The majority of it was in the present day with Rosie and Lilian, but throughout the book, there were flashbacks to Lilian's youth in the 1940's, and what exactly went on there is nothing short of heart-breaking, and very emotional to read. Colgan easily manages to transport you back many years into that time period, and it was great to have a background for Lilian to explain her in the present day, I found these parts of the book so touching and incredibly well written.
Overall, this book was a joy to read, and I really can't recommend it enough. From the enticing, bright front cover that immediately draws you in, you're then sucked into the world of Rosie and Lilian and the glorious sweet shop, as well as the things in the women's lives too. There is a great cast of characters, from the youngest villagers through to the oldest, and a moody young man thrown in to boot, and I loved every single page. Colgan manages to combine this story with Lilian's youth with ease, and I enjoyed each part of the book equally. This book delves deep into the heart of family, love and sweeties, and I defy you not to crave at least half of the things mentioned in the book, especially in a candy striped paper bag as you're reading along! I miss the days of proper pick n mix, and this book will definitely bring that all back in your mind, and more! A fantastic novel that I know will be a surefire success, and it thoroughly deserves to be! A really treat of a read!
ISBN: 978-0751544541. Published by Sphere on March 29th 2012. Pages: 400. RRP: £6.99. Also available as an eBook now.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitchloe.blogspot.com
Thank you for reading.