Alice Rose is a foundling, discovered on the Yorkshire moors above Haworth as a baby. Adopted but then later rejected again by a horrid step-mother, Alice struggles to find a place where she belongs. Only baking – the scent of cinnamon and citrus and the feel of butter and flour between her fingers – brings a comforting sense of home.
So it seems natural that when she finally decides to return to Haworth, Alice turns to baking again, taking over a run-down little teashop and working to set up an afternoon tea emporium.
Luckily she soon makes friends – including a Grecian god-like neighbour – who help her both set up home and try to solve the mystery of who she is. There are one or two last twists in the dark fairytale of Alice’s life to come . . . but can she find her happily ever after?
After a particularly dark and disturbing thriller, this book was just what the doctor ordered, though don’t let the cover fool you – it’s not all froth and lightness, it does have its serious moments.
The story revolves around Alice, whose life story reads pretty much like the dark edged fairy stories she writes. Left for abandoned on the moors, but luckily found by a passing farmer, she was adopted into a home that gave her a loving father but a wicked step-mother. When her father dies, she finds herself cast out and travels down to Cornwall in search of work. What she finds (or more correctly, who finds her) is a fairy godmother called Edie, who becomes a life long friend and confidant.
Her love life is equally as dramatic and forces her to re-think her life and future. What she’s always wanted is just to understand why she was abandoned. When a business opportunity arises in Haworth, it seems that destiny has stepped in and Alice grabs it with both of hands. Luckily those hands are very capable as all was not as anticipated – but then there’d be no story if it was! Alice finds herself, not so much in Wonderland, as no man’s land. Her life is pretty much a jigsaw puzzle, with hopefully, all the pieces in the box, just no real clue of where all the pieces fit, but gradually the picture starts to come together
I settled into this book straight away and was happily transported to the Yorkshire village of Haworth and it’s environs. It’s inhabitants offered a varied mixture of pantomime villains, comic dames (not necessarily in drag) and of course a handsome prince. Providing some sanity and balance in Alice’s life was her childhood friend Lola and the Giddings family who metaphorically ‘adopt’ Alice in much the same way as they had officially adopted Nile (the aforementioned Prince) years earlier. The warmth and fun they bring to the proceedings is very real and I’d be quite happy to be ‘adopted’ by them myself, especially as there seems to be plentiful accommodation and a ready supply of Sunday lunches and Norwegian waffles.
I like the way the book was set out. Thank goodness for a straightforward basic linear timeline that meant I could just relax and move forward, not spend my time jumping back and forth via different time frames and back stories. That said each chapter is preceded by the ‘voice’ of what is assumed to be Alice’s real mother which gives a brief insight into her life, but again it is moving forward and is a clever way of filling in the missing pieces without complicating the main narrative. Another interesting inclusion in the main text are excerpts from the books that Alice is in the process of writing. Some readers will like this others might not, but as they are clearly highlighted by different font and italics, the can easily be bypassed if you just want to press on with real life. The excerpts are quite fun though, offering as they do a wry darker twist on traditional fairy tales set in a real life setting.
Of course what keeps you reading is not just the need to see whether Alice succeeds with the tea shop/emporium, but the will they/won’t they relationship between her and the handsome, if somewhat bossy and organising
Prince neighbour. It’s not for me to disclose here, I just urge you to read for yourselves and I’m sure you’ll be at times dismayed but on balance far more enchanted by the characters that you meet. My only disappointment (apart from reaching the end) was to discover that my proof copy didn’t include the recipes. As a self-respecting Yorkshire lass, who loves her tea and cake I was looking forward to giving them a whirl, but then again, maybe my own fairy godmother was saving me from myself!