Book Review: Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Summer has arrived in the Cornish town of Mount Polbearne and Polly Waterford couldn’t be happier. Because Polly is in love: she’s in love with the beautiful seaside town she calls home, she’s in love with running the bakery on Beach Street, and she’s in love with her boyfriend, Huckle.

And yet there’s something unsettling about the gentle summer breeze that’s floating through town. Selina, recently widowed, hopes that moving to Mount Polbearne will ease her grief, but Polly has a secret that could destroy her friend’s fragile recovery. Responsibilities that Huckle thought he’d left behind are back and Polly finds it hard to cope with his increasingly long periods of absence.

Polly sifts flour, kneads dough and bakes bread, but nothing can calm the storm she knows is coming: is Polly about to lose everything she loves?

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery is the 2nd in a series of three (which starts with Little Beach Street Bakery, reviewed here). As I mentioned in my review of book #1, Jenny Colgan writes escapist fiction more or less to a formula, but it’s a formula that works: Young woman, beat down by city life, escapes to a remote, quaint location, and discovers joy and meaning in her new life. Plus a dreamy, hot love interest. Quirky locals who embrace the new arrival are an added bonus.

In Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, Polly is well-established in Mount Polbearne after living there for about a year, running a successful bakery, living with her hot American boyfriend Huckle (who’s utterly devoted to her), and continuing her obsession with the puffin who’s decided he’s her pet. At the end of book #1, Polly and Huckle decided to buy the decrepit town lighthouse and make it their home. Now living in the lighthouse, they love its charm, but it needs a ton of work, and both are decidedly short on cash for anything but the basics.

Polly’s world gets upended when the old woman who owns the bakery passes away, and her sister (who lives far away) decides to put her worthless son in charge of the place. He immediately takes a dislike to Polly and everything she does, not seeing the value in her high-end ingredients and artisanal breads and instead wanting to make everything cheap and efficient. Eventually, he outright fires Polly, throwing her into despair.

To make ends meet and create a fund from which Polly can invest in a new business venture, Huckle decides to go work on the family farm back in America for a short time in order to make some money. (Is farming really that lucrative? This doesn’t seem like the most realistic plan to me.) So now, on top of her bakery woes, Polly is living without Huckle for a while, and is miserable.

Meanwhile, there are further complications. Polly realizes that Neil the puffin should be wild, but has a hard time letting go. The widow of a man she inadvertently had an affair with (he didn’t disclose his marital status) has moved back to town, and Polly befriends her, without telling her what happened with her husband. Polly and Huckle’s new brainstorm is to convert a food truck into a bread truck, which is a challenging venture that the new bakery owner is determined to ruin. And then a storm blows in, bringing danger to Polly and the people she cares about.

Overall, I really enjoyed Summer — it was a perfect choice for a week when I was looking for a low-involvement, fun, sweet escape. Even when there are problems and peril, it’s a totally safe bet that everything will work out okay in the end.

I did have some confusion about Polly’s business model. In the first book, she opened the bakery in an abandoned old storefront and totally transformed it, creating something special that reinfused the town with fresh life. Polly’s arrangement was to pay rent to the woman who owned the property, but the bakery was essentially hers to run as she saw fit. In this book, when the jerky Malcolm gets involved, Polly is treated as a mere employee and then fired. But the place wouldn’t exist without her! At one point, a very rich friend offers to buy the bakery for Polly, but she turns him down because she wants to make it on her own. Time for a reality check! Take the rich friend’s offer, Polly! I mean, she could always pay him back (not that he cares), but isn’t that a better alternative to having the bakery she created ripped away from her?

You don’t read Jenny Colgan books for harsh doses of reality — they’re meant to be light and lovely, and Summer succeeds in being just that. I enjoyed it, even while feeling that Huckle is TOO perfect, that Neil the puffin is TOO ridiculous as a house-bird, and that Polly finds success maybe a bit TOO easily. But that’s okay.

I really like spending time with Polly and all the quirky people (and seabirds) around her, and will definitely be back for more! The third book is Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery, and I can’t wait to read it.

Side note: These books WILL make you hungry. So much delicious bread! There are even recipes at the end. I need one of Polly’s fresh-made loaves NOW.



The details:

Title: Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery
Author: Jenny Colgan
Publisher: Sphere
Publication date: February 26, 2015
Length: 396 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Purchased





Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten books I bought in 2015… but still haven’t read

Top 10 Tuesday new

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Top Ten 2015 Releases I Meant To Get To But Didn’t. I’m reinterpreting this one to include anything I bought in 2015 but haven’t read yet, not just new releases from 2015. Here are the books that for whatever reason I had to have RIGHT NOW! IMMEDIATELY! GIMME!, but then stuck on my shelf and never picked up again.

1) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell: OF COURSE I bought this one the second it came out. I love Rainbow Rowell and I loved Fangirl and… I have no idea what my problem is.

Carry On

2) Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell: I love everything by Mary Doria Russell, and loved her Doc Holliday book (appropriately named Doc). I bought Epitaph right when it was released so I’d have a chance to read it before she came to my town on her book tour. And then her book tour appearance was cancelled, and I never got around to the book.


3) The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg: I loved the author’s previous novel, Openly Straight (review), and I’m really excited for this one. Plus, a porcupine on the cover!

Porcupine of Truth

4) The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber: Really sounds awesome, and I have a friend who loved it — but it’s over 500 pages, and I just haven’t been in the mood to tackle it yet.

Book of Strange New Things

5) The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan: I actually have a good excuse for not reading this one yet. I was going to read it as soon as I got a copy last year, and then my book group picked it for this coming spring, so of course I had to wait!

Narrow Road to the Deep North

6) Cheating here and listing a trilogy as one entry: I picked up all three books in Holly Black’s Curse Workers series last year, but haven’t touched them yet. Given that one of my resolutions is to binge-read series instead of reading them one book at a time, this might make a good place to start!


7) Conversion by Katherine Howe: This is a 2014 book (described as “Prep meets The Crucible”!) that I bought in 2015, and it’s been sitting on my nightstand ever since.


8) Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey: This one actually is a 2015 release, and it sounds like just the kind of historical fiction that gets me in the heart.

Letters to the Lost

9) Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen: A Vietnamese-American woman with a possible connection to Laura Ingalls Wilder? Yes, please!

Pioneer Girl

10) Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain: The little bits and pieces I’ve read so far tell me that this is a book designed for me!



If I stick to my plan to read more from my shelves this year, then I should be able to get to these book in 2016!

What 2015 books do you still need to read? Please share your TTT links!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out our regular weekly features, Shelf Control and Thursday Quotables. Happy reading!


Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!