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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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3.9 out of 5
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All Book Reviews

  • A riot of colour, humour, pathos and love.

    At the risk of repeating myself, as I say this every time I read a Julie Houston novel, I absolutely loved this book! The skilful intertwining of multiple characters, points of view and timelines is such a joy to read, and shows Julie Houston's absolute mastery of storytelling. Pam and Frankie are both fully realised, engaging characters, and their twin stories drive this novel forward to a satisfying and emotional conclusion. I adored the colours and flavours in this book, from the food, the settings, the characters themselves, and found the attention to detail fascinating, whether it was describing a Sikh wedding or a beekeeping project for asylum seekers. The heart stopping moment, in the third act, with the beehives, will stay with me always. This book gave me a massive lift in the end stages of the global pandemic, and is just the riot of colour, humour, pathos and love, friendship and romantic, that anyone needs to put a smile on their face and a spring in their step. Little glimpses of characters from past books were absolutely lovely, too. Thank you so much to Julie Houston and Aria Fiction for another wonderful read - I'm already waiting impatiently for the next one!

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  • A great family drama and romantic read.

    The novel tells the story of Frankie Piccione and her Aunt Pam, showing both the past and present of their lives. Aunt Pam’s story starts in the 1970’s, as a fifteen-year-old joining family firm Piccione’s. The novel shows the sorrow she faces at losing the love of her life and marrying at a young age. Back in the present, she is retiring from Piccione’s as her niece Frankie, returns from travelling the world to join the family firm. Three years ago, Frankie left home after her romance ended in heartbreak. Now that both women are moving on with their lives, could there be a second chance at happiness for them both? My thoughts The vivid details in the novel gave a clear picture of the past and present. I thought the historical section gave a great sense of the 1970’s. The characters were well rounded and I really got to know them well as the novel progressed. The portrayal of the two young women, Pam in the 1970’s and Frankie in the present day were realistic and drew me into the narrative. I really felt for both of the characters with all the problems and obstacles they went through and wanted them to find happiness in their lives. I thought the author also provided great cultural details for the Piccione family as well as Frankie’s love interest Daler. I enjoyed learning new information about these two different cultures. Would I recommend this book? Overall, I found this to be an absorbing read that provided a great insight into Frankie and her Aunt Pam’s life as part of the Piccione family. A great family drama and romantic read. I gave this novel five out of five stars. With thanks to NetGalley and Aria for this ARC, which I received in exchange for an honest review.

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  • A Mouth-Watering Sheer Delight!

    How I’ve been looking forward to this one! Two years ago, Frankie Piccione went travelling two years ago but now she’s back. The family business of pickles and jams needs some new input and she joins the board with the remit to sort it out. Her brother Luca and his new hire, Cameron Mancini, are watching her and she knows she needs to impress them. Settling back into life in Westenbury, her friend Daisy and her Aunt Pam make her feel at home – until a blast from the past appears and she yearns to just take off again . . . I’ve loved every book set around Westenbury and this one is no different. With a small connection to previous characters this joins up to previous stories but it is a tale all of it’s own. Frankie is a fascinating character and I loved that we followed her both in the present whilst finding out about past events which made her look out her passport. With a wider family, a touch of romance, a lot of humour (yes, back to giggling in bed again and trying not to waken my other half), this is a sheer delight from beginning to end. I would love a map of Westenbury – I’m beginning try to imagine where everyone fits in! Oh, how I want to taste Aunt Rosina’s recipes; as someone who is very fond of everything containing lemons my mouth watered every time any dish was served containing them. Talking about dishes, Dev Patel’s name pops up more than once! I feel a gap now that I no longer have this on my list. If I absolutely had to come up with a criticism, it would be the speedy ending but then, as we all know, great books are always too short and this is, without hesitation, a five star read and one I’m so happy to recommend.

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