Mary Simses’ escapist debut novel is a deliciously dainty dish served up with lashings of humour, a pinch of pathos and a liberal sprinkling of American-style magic.
The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Café, a luscious summer concoction cooked up for consumption under a beach brolly or on a poolside deckchair, whisks us away to coastal Maine to breathe in the ocean air and tuck into a bowl of clam chowder.
City slicker and sophisticated career girl Ellen Branford is determined that she will fulfil her grandmother’s dying wish to find Chet Cummings, the hometown boy the old lady once loved, and give him her last letter.
Just three months before high-flying Manhattan lawyer Ellen is due to marry Hayden, her Kennedy-esque fiancé, she leaves New York and heads for the sleepy, salt-sprayed town of Beacon in Maine.
Home to blueberry fields and eccentric locals, Beacon is the last place she really wants to go so close to her upcoming wedding and she aims to be in and out of the remote town in 24 hours.
However, Ellen ends up the talk of the town when a tumble through some rotting boards on the pier and into the freezing Maine sea introduces her to Roy Cummings, the local carpenter who saves her life.
Roy happens to be the nephew of Ellen’s grandmother’s lost love, and the one person who can bring closure to her quest, but as Ellen learns what her grandmother left behind and what Beacon has to offer – a life of simplicity, small pleasures and self-honesty – she may find that a 24-hour visit will never be enough...
Take all those endearing qualities of a Nicholas Sparks novel, add the addictive charms of New England and food, glorious food and hey presto, you have a gentle, nostalgic and light-hearted story to tickle those summer taste buds.
What will this multi-tasking new author cook up next?
(Headline Review, paperback, £6.99)