The Summer Seaside Kitchen by Jenny Colgan
Publishing Date: 9th February 2016
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!
Number of pages: 384
Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)
Flora is forced to move back to the tiny island of Mure from the bright lights of London.
It’s tough: even the beautiful landscapes and bright blue sea can’t lift her spirits – she’s too busy looking after her dad and her feckless brothers. Then she chances upon her mum’s collection of recipes and begins to cook her way through it. As she she reconnects with her family, and the place she was born- might she also find herself?
Ah yes, there is nothing better than a new Jenny Colgan’s book, right? When starting her novels I know that I am for some really delicious recipes, mouth – watering descriptions of food, brilliant, warm characters and this special writing style that is already becoming Ms Colgan’s hallmark – nobody writes like she does, I think you must agree with it. Her stories always make me smile and make me feel warm, they are uplifting and even if they are full of obstacles and troubles, the sun is always shining at the end. And it was the same with “The Summer Seaside Kitchen”!
The whole bunch of the characters in this novel is perfect. They are so different to each other, they represent different views and ideas, they have different life goals and this all makes the reading so much more interesting and different. Next to the down to earth villagers we have a controversial millionaire, then we have the issue of being a homosexual in such a small and traditional community – but a community that can take you by surprise more than once, as they are people who are more open than we can expect and more clever than we suspect! It is incredible how well Jenny Colgan can capture all the differences and how well she can get into the characters’ heads and make them so realistic and genuine – they are all so well drawn, so honest in the way they are and talk.
I loved the two sides to Flora. The one who wanted to live in London, lead the life just like many other young people, go to the cinema or the bar. Then the other one, who she wanted to forget about, but that was so strongly rooted in her – that she comes from a remote island where everyone knows everyone, where there is no anonymity of London. They were so brilliantly captured by the author, you could feel Flora’s indecision and I really wanted to see which way she’s going to go. She feared so much to come back to Mure, to see her family but you can take a girl out of the village but you can’t take the village out of the girl, right? I loved Flora, she was sensitive and she had heart in the right place. She was funny and sharp and clever and all her feelings and emotions were brought to us in such a genuine, honest way that I had a feeling I’m just sitting in her head, so well I could understand her.
The interactions in Flora’s family were so brilliantly captured! The troubles, the misunderstandings, the typical banter between the siblings, it just felt so natural and so true. You can’t help but fall for all of them, even with their harshness but you just can’t not like them and wish them all best. I would love to catch up with Flora, her brothers, little niece and to see how her relationship is going on!
This story is set on a Scottish Island, and Jenny Colgan couldn’t have think of a better setting. The descriptions of the fierceness of the island, of it being so natural were so vivid and so beautiful, and you know what, I could fully understand the reluctance to the wind farm, as lately there are five such monstrosities standing almost at my doorstep, and I always thought that oh well, a windmill here or there, it’s just there, but that’s not true – I can’t get used to them and they are spoiling my beautiful views, so I really just could imagine how they would look like on this remote island. Jenny Colgan has a real talent to capture the beauty of the landscape, of nature, and also she must be the queen of capturing the essence of people living on Mure, their solitude, their way of thinking, them being so proud of their background, parentage. This all has just made reading this much more special. The way Jenny Colgan writes about the island just brings it to life, the descriptions of the sea, of seals popping their heads above the water, about the weather that can change in one second, the landscape are so brilliantly vivid and I loved them.
But guys. As much as I love Jenny Colgan and loved “The Summer Seaside Kitchen” I can’t help thinking that it’s slowly time for a change. I mean, this author follows one formula and even if it’s OK because it’s working wonders and I also fell for it, sometimes there comes this niggling feeling that I’ve been there, I’ve seen it, that it feels like reading a copy of a copy of a copy of a book. I would love to see something a little different, something that doesn’t feel exactly like the previous book. But apart of this – the story was really well plotted and constructed and I enjoyed the various subplots – it was not only about Flora but also about her bothers, about the island, about the outdoor – experience guides, about local businesses, about family bonds. There is also this little bit of romance and Flora has really predispositions to complicate her love life, and to be honest this time I personally didn’t know which one of the guys would be better for her, and also it wasn’t clear till the end, and I enjoyed that this aspect of the story was not so predictable.
“The Summer Seaside Kitchen” is really a wonderful, welcoming read and it is so easy to get wrapped up in this story. The characters got under your skin and you fell for them so very quickly. It is impossible not to love the setting, and all the pagan mythology elements that Jenny describes were brilliant, as well as the names of the characters – it just made the reading so much more authentic, keeping up with the traditions, feeling the atmosphere and community spirit. A lovely read and I will be getting back to this book for sure! Highly recommended!