Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery
Little Beach Street Bakery #2
March 22, 2016
Add to Goodreads
Add Series to Goodreads
For fans of Jojo Moyes and Elin Hilderbrand, an irresistible novel—moving and funny, soulful and sweet—about happiness, heartache, and hope. And recipes.
A thriving bakery. A lighthouse to call home. A handsome beekeeper. A pet puffin. These are the things that Polly Waterford can call her own. This is the beautiful life she leads on a tiny island off the southern coast of England.
But clouds are gathering on the horizon. A stranger threatens to ruin Polly’s business. Her beloved boyfriend seems to be leading a secret life. And the arrival of a newcomer—a bereft widow desperately searching for a fresh start—forces Polly to reconsider the choices she’s made, even as she tries to help her new friend through grief.
Unpredictable and unforgettable, this delightful novel will make you laugh, cry, and long for a lighthouse of your own. Recipes included.
A Word from Jenny
Hello! And welcome to the Little Beach Street Bakery… if you’ve been here before, lovely to see you again! If it’s your first time, well, you are so welcome, and I hope you are hungry. Let me give you a quick catch-up before we get started. (Neil fans: don’t worry. He’s back).
Okay, so Polly lost her business in Plymouth and had to start all over again. She moved to a coastal town in Cornwall, where the tide comes in twice a day and covers the causeway. When she couldn’t find a job, she started baking bread, because that’s what she loves to do, and soon incurred the wrath of Mrs. Manse, who ran the town bakery (very badly).
Anyways, eventually Polly won her around and started working there. Meanwhile, she has a brief affair with one of the fishermen, Tarnie, then found out to her utter horror that he was married. He later died in a terrible storm, and it took – and is still taking – everyone a very long time to get over it.
Polly fell in love, finally, with Huckle, a big American chap who makes his own honey. She also inadvertently adopted a puffin and has, probably against her better judgment, just decided to buy a lighthouse.
Right, I think we’re up to date! I do hope you enjoy Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery; I so loved writing it.
A Quick Word about the Setting
Cornwall to me is a place of the imagination as much as a real home to lots of people because I spent so much time there as a child. To me, it is like a version of Narnia or any of the other imaginary lands I liked to visit – I was absolutely obsessed with Over Sea, Under Stone, and of course the Famous Five and Malory Towers.
We used to stay in old tin-miners’ cottages near Polperro. My mother was a great Daphne du Maurier fan, and she used to put me and my two brothers to sleep in the little narrow beds and tell us bloodcurdling stories of shipwrecks and pirates and gold and wreckers, and we would be utterly thrilled and chilled and one of us, probably my littlest brother – although he would probably say me – would be up half the night with nightmares.
Compared to chilly Scotland, sunny Cornwall was like paradise to me. Every year, we were bought those big foam body surfboards as a special treat, and we would get into the water first thing in the morning and body surf, body surf, body surf until physically hauled out, sunburnt along the crossed strap lines of my swimming costume, to eat a gritty sandwich wrapped in cling film.
Later my dad would barbecue fish over the little home-built Barbie he constructed every year from bricks and a grill, and I would sit in the high sweet grass, read books and get bitten by insects.
And after that (because you get to stay up very late on your holidays), we’d drive down to Mousehole or St. Ives and eat ice cream while strolling along the harbor looking at the art galleries. Or we’d eat hot salty fried potatoes, or fudge, the flavors of which I was constantly obsessed with, even though fudge invariably makes me feel sick.
They were blissful times, and it was such a joy to revisit them when I started writing my Mount Polbearne series. We went on a day trip – as required by law, I think, of anyone visiting Cornwall – to St. Michael’s Mount, and I remember being gripped and fascinated by the old stone road disappearing under the waves. It was the most romantic and magical thing I could possibly imagine, and it has been such a joy setting my books there. If I can convey through my books even a fraction of the happiness Cornwall has brought me in my life…well, I’ll be absolutely delighted.
“Stop it,” Polly said in a warning voice. “It’s not funny.”
Neil ignored her and continued to beat on the little high window with his beak until she could be persuaded to go over and give him a snack.
He was outside the lighthouse they had moved into the previous month, all three of them together, Polly, Neil the puffin, and Huckle, Polly’s American boyfriend, who has parked his motorbike and sidecar at the bottom of the tower. It was their only mode of transport.
The lighthouse hadn’t been lived in for a long time, not since the lamps were electrified in the late seventies. It has four floors and a circular staircase that ran around the sides, thus making it, as Huckle had pointed out more than once, the single draftiest place in human history. They were both getting very fit running up and down it. One floor held the heavy machinery that had one turned the workings, which couldn’t be removed. On the top floor, just below the light itself, was their sitting room, which has views right across the bay and, on the other side, back toward Mount Polbearne, the tidal island where they lived and worked, with its caseway to the mainland that covered and uncovered itself with the tides.
From these windows you could see the little Beach Street Bakery, the ruined shop that Polly had revitalized when she has moved to the village just over two years ago, getting over a failed business and a failed relationship back on the mainland.
She hadn’t originally expected to do much in Mount Polbearne except sit and lick her wounds until she was ready to head back into the fray again, back to working a corporate lifestyle; hadn’t for a moment thought that in the tumbledown flat above the shop she would come back to life by practicing her favorite hobby – baking bread – and that this would turn into a career when she reopened the old closed-down bakery.
It wasn’t the most lucrative of careers, and the hours were long, but the setting was so wonderful, and her work so appreciated, by both the townspeople and the tourists, that she had found something much satisfying than money: she has found what she was meant to be doing with her life. Well, most of the time she thought that. Sometimes she looked around at the very basic kitchen she had installed (her old flat in Plymouth had sold, and she’d managed to get the lighthouse at a knockdown price mostly, as Lance the estate agent had pointed out, because only an absolutely crazy person could possibly want to live in a draft, inaccessible tower with a punishing light shining out of it) and wondered if she’d ever manage to fix the window frames, the window frames being number one on a list of about four thousand things that urgently needed doing.
Huckle had offered to buy the place with her, but she had resisted. She had worked too hard to be independent. Once before she had shared everything, been entirely enmeshed financially with someone. It had not worked out, and she was in no mood to repeat the experience.
Right now, she wanted to sit in her eyrie of a sitting room at the very top of the house, drink tea, eat a cheese twist and simply relax and enjoy the view: the sea, ever changing; clouds scudding past so close she could touch them; the little fishing boats bobbing out across the water in faded greens and browns, their winches and nets heavy behind them, looking tiny and fragile against the vast expanse of the sea. She just needed five minutes’ peace and quiet before heading down to the bakery to relieve her colleague Jayden for the lunchtime shift.
Neil, the little puffin who had crashed into her life one night in a storm and remained there ever since, did not agree. He found the activity of flying outside, high up, and still being able to see her through the window utterly amazing, and liked to do it again and again, sometimes taking off to fly all the way around the lighthouse and come back in the other side, sometimes pecking at the glass because Huckle thought it was funny to feed him tidbits out of the window even though Polly had told him not to.
Polly put down her book and moved over to the window, struck as she never ceased to be – she wondered if she would ever grow tired at it – by the amazing cast of the sun silvering in and out behind the clouds over the waves, the gentle cawk of the seagulls and the whistling wind, which could turn thunderous on winter days. She still couldn’t quite believe she lived here. She opened the old-fashioned, single-glazed window with its heavy latch.
“Come in then,” she said, but Neil fluttered excitedly and tried to peck in between her fingers in case she had a tasty treat for him.
Jenny Colgan is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels, including Christmas at the Cupcake Café, Little Beach Street Bakery, and Meet Me at the Cupcake Café, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.