Review: Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams

Were you a sherbet lemon or chocolate lime fan? Penny chews 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…

I met Jenny Colgan when I went to the showing of Dr Who and the Daleks several months ago. She was there because she now writes Dr Who novels, but most of her work is Romantic Fiction. We shelve this in the Fiction section of the library, not the Romance section. Which I think is a good thing?

Anyway! I really, really enjoyed this book.

The characters were interesting and lovable, if not wholly realistic and it was certainly entertaining. Her representation of coming to the countryside from the city was daft but I’ve had many moments them that myself when returning home. And the plot moved comfortably and easily forward, without hefting any depth or weight of being. It was, in short, comfortingly entertaining.

And then.

Suddenly.

It was as though somebody else had taken over writing the book. A ‘love interest’ is revealed as gay – there were no clues to this , just a sudden realisation on Rosie’s part. And everyone – including the ex-boyfriend – is suddenly paired off by the end, thereby losing any connection with reality it had previously.

At least the sex scene was… oh crap… where did that come from? (And among the better scenes of that nature that I’ve read.)

The one redeeming feature of this last section was that the story of Lilian Hopkins – told in flashbacks – continued as it had started. A hope-filled but inevitably sad tale of love, loss and aging. There were no tears, but a part of my heart ached for her.

I have yet to try out the recipes. Apparently sugar is my enemy. But on a treat day, I’ll give one or two a shot. 🙂

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