Hello, hello, and – as usually – happy Sunday! I’ve warned you that there are many blog tours coming your way in July and ta – dah! Here is the next one, and I am SO, SO excited about this one because a) I love the author, b) I love her books, c) it was a brilliant story and d) I also have a Q&A with the one and only lovely Cressida McLaughlin! So put your feet high and enjoy!
The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse by Cressida McLaughlin
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publishing Date: 29th June 2017
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!
Number of pages: 464
Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
The charming new bestseller from the No.1 bestselling author of The Canal Boat Cafe
Robin Brennan has come home to Campion Bay. Now her parents have retired, she’s set to become the new landlady of The Campion Bay Guesthouse.
Bookings have been as thin as the hand towels, and it doesn’t take long for Robin to realise that the place needs a serious makeover. Perhaps throwing herself into the task will help to heal her sadness at the tragic end to her dreams in London.
As she gives the guesthouse a new lease of life, Robin encounters old friends and new, including old flame Tim, who’d clearly like to reboot their romance. But what about Will, the new arrival at No. 4, who’s rocked up with the cutest dog ever?
Caught up in a flurry of full-English breakfasts and cream teas, Robin’s never sure what, or who, the next check-in will bring…
I’ve been so eagerly awaiting “The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse” as one whole beautiful novel! I love Cressida McLaughlin’s stories and when this gorgeous baby arrived, I really wanted to stop all the people on the streets to show them my wonderful copy.
The story introduces us to Robin Brennan who has just come back home to Campion Bay. There couldn’t be a better timing, as her parents have just decided to retire, and so Robin takes over The Campion Bay Guesthouse. She quickly realises that there are things to do to improve the number of bookings and so the guesthouse soon faces a serious makeover. One of the things that brought Robin home was the need to heal her sadness, to leave a dramatic past of London behind – is time going to heal? Also, being back home means old (but also new) friends and ex – boyfriends with some strange ideas – what and who is future going to bring in Robin’s life?
I liked Robin from the beginning – she was just this kind of girl that you can’t NOT to like. She had her heart on the sleeve and she always wanted to please other people but it didn’t make her a doormat, oh no, I didn’t have a feeling that she let others use her. She knew what she wanted and she also knew when to go on or when to back away. I loved her amazing ideas, she was so creative and it was often one thing that would make her start and we could see brilliant events as the result. She was enthusiastic, full of drive and determination but she really knew when to say stop.
I adored the descriptions of the rooms in the guesthouse. The designs were unique, gorgeous and so very considered. There was always a story behind each of them and I really loved how much thought and heart were put into them. There was so much heart and soul in the whole guesthouse idea, you could see that Robin is the right person in the right place. And of course we have the lovely community spirit in this book, that Cressida McLaughlin captured just in the right way, and I so enjoyed visiting the little businesses on Goldcrest Road! And, as in all Cressida’s stories, there are some animal characters as well, and wow, can she write animals! Eclipse and Darcy, Robin’s little cat and Will’s cute dog, added so much joy and fun to the pages.
For me this story was perfectly organized for being published as series, but not so as a whole novel. Don’t get me wrong here, pretty please, because I adored it, I only think that it was much better suited to seeing the world as series – it was rather on the slow side, and what slowed it down was the fact that every single guest in the guesthouse was introduced to us, and while I really see it working in parts, it didn’t work so much for me in the whole story. There was too much focus on the details than on the story itself – in the whole. It also felt a little repetitive – and again, it was absolutely OK for the series, probably it didn’t stick out so much then. I also had some problems with Will. I just had a feeling that he let Robin do all the chasing, that he wasn’t as interested as she was and that he just went with the flow – it didn’t let me to warm to him as much as I’d like to warm to the lovely Robin’s love interest. Also Robin’s ex – boyfriend – oh boy, was he creepy!
Altogether, it was such a lovely, heart – warming and uplifting story, and I really love this gorgeous, rich and vivid Cressida’s writing style. Her words have such distinctive voice and she easily brings everything: the setting, the characters, all the feelings and emotions, to life. The story flows, it is full of twists and turns, family dynamics, old and new friendships and relationships, and this all just works together. Each section of the novel ends – of course! – with a cliffhanger and it was such a relief to be able to keep reading! It was really a charming story, without unnecessary dramas but with enough surprises thrown our way. Highly recommended!
Q&A WITH CRESSIDA MCLAUGHLIN
- Do you have a favourite part or scene from your latest book? Could you tell us why you love it?
There is a scene about halfway through the book that takes place on Skull Island – the crazy golf course in Campion Bay. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s one of my favourite scenes because it’s the culmination of lots of things, it was really fun to write, and I also love crazy golf. What happens afterwards is also one of my favourites parts of the book, but for very different reasons. There’s quite a lot of drama in those two scenes! Ooh, and there’s also a scene further on in the book that takes place at a stately home in Dorset, which I loved writing! The setting was fun to conjure up, and there’s quite a bit of tension and awkwardness. I love making my characters squirm.
- Robin hopes that the move to Campion Bay – and throwing herself into her new duties as the landlady of the guesthouse – will help her heal from the sadness of the tragic end of her dreams in London. Is that experience something close to your heart?
I’m very lucky that I haven’t had to deal with anything as tragic as Robin has, but I think a new start – for whatever reason – is something that everyone can identify with. I’ve recently become a full time author, which is one of the most daunting decisions I’ve ever made, partly because it’s been my dream for such a long time. I’m definitely throwing myself into it, and loving every moment so far! Like Robin, I have also moved away from London. I was born there, and stayed until I chose to go to university in Norfolk. I’ve been here for 17 years now, so moving out of the big smoke and feeling at home somewhere slower-paced, embracing the countryside and the beautiful coastline, is something I can identify with.
- The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse is great for holiday inspiration! But what would be your ideal romantic summer getaway?
Somewhere quiet, staying in a B&B or hotel with sea views, close to a beautiful beach. We’ve had a couple of lovely holidays in Cornwall, but in the summer it gets so busy. I also love Crete, so maybe going to one of the Greek islands with perfect, sandy beaches, glorious blue water and lots of fresh fish to eat.
- Besides a writer, what did you want to be ‘when you grow up’?
When I was little I either wanted to be a florist, or work behind the delicatessen counter in Sainsbury’s. I got the chance to do the latter when I got a job at my local Sainsbury’s during my GCSE’s and A-levels, and sadly, though unsurprisingly, it didn’t live up to my expectations. I still love the idea of being a florist, surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers, creating inspiring bouquets and displays, but I think you have to work in the cold, and I’m not a fan of the cold.
- Apart from a survival guide, what book would you take with you on a desert island, to read over and over again?
Oh wow, just one book? How about my Kindle? Hehe. Maybe the mammoth encyclopaedia of ghosts that I have. I’m fascinated by ghosts and the supernatural, and that would definitely keep me interested for a long time. Is an encyclopaedia cheating though? Novel wise, I would pick Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and it’s delicious in so many ways. I could read that over and over again without getting bored.
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