Rosie Hopkins is 31, working a series of temp jobs in nursing and is living in a stale relationship with Gerard. She loves London and is surprised to hear a call which takes her to the countryside, a small village called Lipton, to care for her ill great aunt Lilian and get to grips with Lilian’s old sweet shop. Things get off to a frosty start between the pair, but the two women soon bond and it is soon clear that they are quite similar in many respects: both are headstrong, quick witted and both are having trouble in love…
At first, the story begins quite slowly as Colgan initially sets up the plot. Gerard is very frustrating – he is very attached to his mother (perhaps too attached), and doesn’t seem to love Rosie genuinely. He is extremely hesitant and treats her as a dogsbody to cook and clean for him. It is a wonder that Rosie has put up with him for 8 years, puzzling her friends and the reader.
The story really picks up when Rosie arrives in Lipton as she gets to grip village life and the residents of Lipton. She meets Moray, the handsome doctor, and Jake, a local farm worker. Rosie’s sparky relationship with both of these men was fantastic to read. As a reader, I was guessing that Rosie would fall in love with one of these guys but sadly not. Jake falls in love with someone else and Moray turns out to be gay (slightly inexplicable and disappointing). Stephen’s story is interesting as it is clear that he is traumatised but I just didn’t take to his character as well as I did to Moray and Jake. At the scene where Stephen collapses in the pub was a clear indicator that he would end up with Rosie, which was a bit disappointing and from them on, I slightly felt that I lost interest in Rosie’s story – it all seemed a bit formulaic and bland by then.
One character I thought was constantly engaging was aunt Lilian – she is vibrant, funny and sarcastic, and her story in the 1940s which is told bit by bit kept me gripped. It was heartbreaking and tragic, and really made you feel for Lilian losing her love. The way it is juxtaposed with Rosie’s story later on in the novel was clever, although Lilian’s story was more interesting and had greater impact.
Similar to Meet Me At Cupcake Cafe , this is a sweet story that makes you pander for sweetshops of the past. Colgan’s narrative has some fantastic moments earlier on, but drops off as the focus turns to Rosie falling for Stephen. Other characters such as Edison and the stereotypical villain, Roy Blaine – the dentist (!), provided entertainment in the novel, but Lilian’s story is excellent and serves as the highlight of the book. 3.5 stars.