All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: A Year At Castle Court by Holly Hepburn

on June 26, 2020

A Year At Castle Court 
Holly Hepburn
Simon & Schuster UK
2018, 496p
Read via Borrow Box/my local library

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Sadie is a single mum, nursing a broken heart. Her best friend from childhood, Cat, is burned out from working long hours as a chef in Paris. In need of a change, they decide to invest in their dream – running their own handmade biscuit shop in gorgeous Castle Court, a three-storey food court tucked away behind Chester’s bustling streets.
 
They soon discover that Castle Court has its own community – a little haven of delight against the stresses of the outside world. But not everyone welcomes the new business; the patisserie owner is less than pleased by what she sees as direct competition and Greg, who runs the fancy bistro that dominates one end of the courtyard, doesn’t think Sadie and Cat have the talent or business acumen to succeed. Luckily, there’s support in the form of the delectable Jaren, who owns the Dutch waffle house opposite Smart Cookies, and Swiss chocolate-shop owner, Elin. And if all else fails, the friends can drown their sorrows in Seb’s cocktail bar on the third floor!

Recently I read a Holly Hepburn book that turned out to be just the first part. This book is definitely similar – it’s split into four equal parts comprising the seasons of the first year that Sadie and Cat open their biscuit business but this time I got in after it had all been published and managed to get the entire book, rather than just a part of it thankfully!

Sadie is recently single, having discovered husband Dan was having an affair with a work colleague. She’s now juggling being a single mother with opening a new business, an artisan biscuit shop with Cat, her best friend since school. Cat is a chef, who was even head chef at a fancy Paris restaurant but is now back in Britain. She bakes the biscuits and Sadie ices them with her flair for design. The court where they have leased a shop seems perfect – there are other similar businesses such as restaurants and chocolate shops, bakeries and a trendy bar. It’s the sort of place where people will gravitate if they are looking for good food and something to treat themselves as well. They are quickly introduced to some of the local shop owners or business managers and most welcome them with friendly smiles and open arms. However there are two people seem distinctly unhappy about their arrival in the court, which does put a small dampener on things.

I loved a lot about this! I absolutely adored the idea of the business – who doesn’t love biscuits (cookies, for all you Americans out there!). They do amazing shapes and beautifully decorated ones as well as running classes for both children and adults. They do a lot with festive themes, such as biscuits for Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, New Year, etc. It isn’t long before they need to hire new staff, which brings Adam, a local beekeeper and farmer, closer to Sadie, although she faces confusion when it seems like ex-husband Dan turns over a new leaf and suddenly starts taking on his share of the childcare and offering to help by cooking meals when she’s busy, something he certainly never did when they were married. Being a single mother of a five year old and working full time presents a lot of challenges and Dan isn’t afraid to use that against Sadie when he decides that he wants to repair their marriage. It leaves Sadie very conflicted, because Dan hurt her deeply and she’s out there, doing something for herself, providing for her daughter….but at the same time, her daughter loves her father obviously and it’s hard to be shunted between two homes. Sadie wants to do the right thing by her….but sometimes, she forgets to consider her own happiness and sense of fulfilment as well, which is equally important.

I really enjoyed Castle Court – so many of the local business owners are so fun and welcoming and they form quite a tight knit group, apart from the one antagonist who really wants to ruin things and isn’t afraid to badmouth them to everyone he knows. But the rest of them are so supportive of each other, which really comes to the forefront when the biscuit store faces a hardship due to an unforeseeable incident. They all rally together in the best of ways to help Cat and Sadie. I especially loved the men who run the American truck stop-style diner.

The romantic entanglements get a bit complicated part way through the book, when two characters made decisions that I didn’t really expect and that plays out for a little while before things started to go in the direction I expected at the beginning of the story. I think there was probably a little unnecessary romantic drama, particularly around Cat which at times detracted from the other parts of the story for me. And likewise, the drama from Cat’s previous job definitely played a much bigger part of the story than I thought it would and got to levels of seriousness that were surprising and then kind of….dissolved.

This was fun. I’d definitely read more Holly Hepburn – but only after the whole story has been published.

7/10

Book #110 of 2020


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