I loved Nina and her van full of books! As she traveled and matched up the right books with the right people, Nina also experienced personal growth. Along her journey from England to Scotland, Nina did more than just drive some kilometers. She transitioned from roommate-situation to living alone, and from depressed to wide-eyed in awe.
I also liked Nina’s relationship with her roommate Surinder – everyone needs a best friend who can share unvarnished truths. And Surinder was so fun! Nina also had a beautiful friendship with teenage Ainslee, a girl who just needed a good book and a nudge in the right direction.
I didn’t enjoy the Marek storyline at all, but I did see the necessity of a “transition” guy during Nina’s transformation. So while Marek and his subplot made a lot of sense, the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. The chapters with Nina’s landlord were similarly nose-wrinkling. He was a great guy, but I didn’t like his circumstances in the story.
Overall, I sailed happily through this lovely story about a woman making a big life change. While the romantic parts weren’t my cup of tea, Nina’s friendships and journey of self-discovery were on point. Author Jenny Colgan made me feel like I was part of Nina’s book van, and that was a thrill in itself!
This is a romantic story, in the old-fashioned sense of it being nostalgic and dreamy and sigh-inducing. It blends a historical-coming-of-age story with a contemporary “finding oneself” plot. Rosie leaves London to help her aging great-aunt in the countryside. While she’s there she makes connections that fulfill an emptiness she didn’t even know she had. There’s a happily-ever-after, but it’s a tad bittersweet, kind of ironic for a sweetshop owner. 🙂
I loved Rosie’s story: her capers as a medical nurse, her hilarious clumsy attempts at traveling in the country, and her funny attempts at making friends.
I really didn’t like the flashbacks to Aunt Lilian’s youth. I’d be all into Rosie’s story and then BOOM Lilian’s story would interrupt it. You might like the alternating flashback format, but it seemed disjointed to me.
I really DID like the candy recipes and the editorial comments at the beginning of each chapter. I felt like the author was talking to just me, drawing me into the book!
My absolute favorite favorite parts of Sweetshop of Dreams were: when Rosie (with Edison by her side) tells off the dentist and Edison’s mom; and when Rosie goes careening off her bike head over heels. Yes, head over heels.
Sweetshop of Dreams turned into a contemporary romance after all. “Love is caramel… Always welcome… Easy melting of two souls into one… A taste that lingers even when everything else has melted away.” Lilian may have missed her chance at true love, but Rosie certainly “got lucky” when she moved to Lipton.