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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Review and Guest Post: Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

Title:Sweetshop of Dreams
Author: Jenny Colgan
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publish Date: August 5, 2014 (Today!)
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "Were you a sherbet lemon or chocolate lime fan? Soft chewy ones 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."

My Two Cents:

When "Sweetshop of Dreams" opens, Rosie absolutely hates her job. She tries to put on a brave face for those around her but she can't help but feel like there has to be something else out there for her so when her aunt needs her to run her old-fashioned sweet shop in the English countryside, she goes if for nothing more than a change of pace. What she finds is something more wonderful than she could ever imagine. This is an adorable story about the good things that can happen when you step outside of the box.

I really liked reading about Rosie's change of heart in this book. Her London life includes a job and a boyfriend and they are okay and safe. Most of the story surrounds Rosie's decision as to whether she wants mere safety or if she wants to put herself out there, which may mean more risk but greater happiness. I think this is something that a lot of us struggle with. It can be so hard to make that leap. We get to see how Rosie weighs her options.

Lilian was also a great character. She is very no-nonsense and fully realizes that life is much too short to not go after something that makes you deliriously happy. We get to see her both in the present day as an old woman who has lived a full life and in flashbacks to the past, as a young woman who is really just beginning to live. She was such a fun character.

Who would not want to run a cute sweetshop like Rosie's Aunt Lilian? Located in a tiny town where everyone knows everyone and the setting is totally idyllic. I loved this tiny town and all of its denizens. Colgan paints a vivid picture of all of these people. The characters truly make up the heart of this book.

After reading and enjoying "Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe," I was really looking forward to reading this book. The story is full of charm and really made for a fun, relaxing read!

Author Guest Post: 

What kind of research did you do on candy and sweets for this book and how did you pick which ones to feature at the beginning of each chapter?

Well, I grew up in a town with a wonderful sweetshop, so I took my cue from that: it seemed to me an amazing treasure trove of colours and scents, so I picked the ones that stayed the longest for me in my childhood memories: those memories are so strong, I bet everyone can still remember the smell of their favourite candy bar. I also wrote about the sweets in the character of Lilian, the old lady whose memories form the heart of the book, and I liked the idea of her being very set in her ways and opinionated about things. Even though she runs a sweetshop, she won't allow chewing gum to be sold because she thinks it is vulgar! Also she despises cough sweets for some reason. Neither medicine nor a treat is the reason she gives I think. 

Where I live now in France children don't eat candy like they do in the UK or America; you get one or two 'bon bons' when you attend a birthday party and that's it. Whilst it's probably better for them all round- although of course they do eat plenty of croissants and pain au chocolats, and famously eat chunks of dark chocolate in baguette for breakfast- I do feel sorry for my own children, who are quite french. We were in London and I took them to an old-fashioned sweetshop there and they were totally paralysed with indecision. I think Michael-Francis, the middle one, ended up with some wine gums, poor lad. 

Warmest wishes, and thanks for the question!


Rosie Hopkins's life is...comfortable. She has a steady nursing job, a nice apartment, and Gerard, her loyal (if a bit boring) boyfriend. And even though she might like to pursue a more rewarding career, and Gerard doesn't seem to have any plans to propose, Rosie's not complaining. Things could be worse. Right?

Life gets a bit more interesting when Rosie's mother sends her out to the country to care for her ailing great aunt Lilian, who owns an old-fashioned sweetshop. But as Rosie gets Lilian back on her feet, breathes a new life into the candy shop, and gets to know the mysterious and solitary Stephen—whose family seems to own the entire town—she starts to think that settling for what's comfortable might not be so great after all.

A former columnist for The Guardian, Jenny Colgan contributes regularly to national BBC radio and is the author of more than eleven bestselling novels, including her recent international bestsellers The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris published in 2014 and Welcome To Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams, which won the 2013 Romantic Novel of the Year award from the Romantic Novelists Association. She is married with three children and lives in London and France.

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