Jennie Copeland thought she knew the recipe for a happy life: marriage to her university sweetheart, a nice house in the suburbs and three beautiful children. But when her husband leaves her, she is forced to find a different recipe. And she thinks she’s found just what she needs: a ramshackle house on the outskirts of the beautiful Talyton St George, a new cake-baking business, a dog, a horse, chickens…
But life in the country is not quite as idyllic as she’d hoped, and Jennie can’t help wondering whether neighbouring farmer Guy Barnes was right when he told her she wouldn’t last the year.
Or perhaps the problem is that she’s missing one vital ingredient to make her new life a success. Could Guy be the person to provide it?
I loved the sound of this book, as a country girl with a love of baked goods it sounded right up my street. I’d previously read and enjoyed Cathy Woodman’s first novel, Under The Bonnet so I was keen to get reading.
The plot is pretty standard chick lit fare, the kind you start reading and it all feels comfortable and familiar. The book starts with the Copeland family’s arrival at their new home, within the first chapter Jennie has crossed paths with potential love interest Guy (though of course we only guess who he is until the second chapter). They do the typical dance between disliking each other and liking each other with plenty of misunderstandings to keep them going. Beneath the expected love story however there is a subplot focussing on Jennie’s relationship with her children and how they handle the move to the country. I liked this a lot, though for me it did feel like it got wrapped up a bit too easily and cleanly. I would probably have liked there to be a bit more of this plot within the book.
I liked the character of Jennie though at times I didn’t agree with how she responded to things and thought that she walked herself into problems. I did find myself falling for Guy, exactly as you want to with any romantic love interest. There are plenty of laughs provided by Jennie’s children, the younger two in particular are still at that age where they say exactly what their mum wouldn’t want them to say, and Woodman uses this to great effect. The characters who already live in Talyton St George (there are two earlier books set there) are well created and jump off the page.
Each of the chapters has a type of cake as the title and Jennie makes this cake within the chapter. This led to what was probably my biggest quibble with the book. This isn’t the first book I’ve read that has a baking theme but in the others either recipes or a link to a website with recipes has been included. When I got to the end of this book I didn’t find any information about the recipes Jennie baked which was a real shame as there were a few that I would have been keen to have a go at. This didn’t reduce my enjoyment of the book, but I do think that it is possibly a missed opportunity.
I enjoyed The Sweetest Thing, it was a gentle and fairly entertaining read. I’m not sure that I’d rush out to buy the other Talyton St George books but I’d probably pick them up at the library.
The Sweetest Thing is published in paperback by Arrow in the UK priced £6.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.