Review published on November 2, 2017.
I have been known to be partial to a WW2 saga, but I don’t read a huge amount of them these days. When I do read one, I need it to be a good one and I’m happy to report that Heartaches and Christmas Cakes is up there with the best of them.
We meet Audrey Barton and her family in Bournemouth right at the start of the war. She and her husband, Charlie, run a bakery and it was the shop being so central to the story that really attracted me to the book in the first place. It’s a real hub, as shops often were back then, and I always think about how it must have been to go from individual shop to shop buying all that you need. Hard work but something quite lovely about it too.
Audrey is a bit of a magnet for waifs and strays. Her brother has just joined up and left behind his fiancée, Elsie, who gravitates towards Audrey in his absence. Then there’s Lily, her stepsister, who arrives on her doorstep one day looking for help, and she also takes in an evacuee. I liked Audrey a lot. She’s such a kind, loving person and is the heart of the story.
With any good saga there are numerous ups and downs, but strong spirits and love for family and friends win out in the end. Heartaches and Christmas Cakes is a truly heart-warming story and I was engrossed in it from start to finish. I particularly enjoyed reading about the ingenuity needed to survive food rationing and the community spirit which led to everyone helping each other.
As the story ends early on in the war, I was pleased to note that this is the first in a series and it’s definitely one I will continue to read. I absolutely loved this first instalment!
Nicola Smith 5/3
Heartaches and Christmas Cakes by Amy Miller
Bookouture 9781786812360 pbk Oct 2017
The Writers’ Retreat by Indu Balachandran
Reading Group Guide: A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré
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