Book Review: The Summer Seaside Kitchen

The Summer Seaside Kitchen
By: Jenny Colgan
Published By: Hachette (Sphere)
Publication Date: February 9th, 2017
Page Count: 464
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher
Audience: Adult - Contemporary Women's Fiction

Flora MacKenzie thought she had escaped Mure, the remote Scottish island where she grew up. She's happy with her flat share in London, her job as a paralegal, and her hopeless crush on her boss, Joel. So when a wealthy American businessman approaches her firm for help with his development on Mure, she's not thrilled at the idea of returning.

Life on the island hasn't changed much. Her father and brothers work hard on the family dairy farm, the fishing boats go out and come back as they always did, but there are signs of things going downhill. There are a few empty shops and the school's enrolments are lower each year. More young people are, like Flora, leaving the island and not coming back.

Colton Rogers is a rich American with a vision. It's to save the island of Mure and restore The Rock to its full splendour. But when the locals want to put in a wind farm and spoil his pristine view, he enlists Flora's help to get them onside. If only he knew she wasn't the most popular person on the island.

Joel is a workaholic with a string of gorgeous blonde women trailing in his wake. That's all he wants, or needs.

Fintan is one of Flora's brothers, and the others give him a hard time for shirking his responsibilities on the farm. Fintan has a secret, or two, and doesn't want to spend the rest of his life milking cows.

Returning to Mure forces Flora to face what she's lost, what she wants, and where she needs to be.

The Summer Seaside Kitchen is the latest in a string of Jenny Colgan books which have a food theme at their centre, and like several of the others, it features recipes in the back of the book. Flora's story progresses along fairly predictable lines. There are two possible love interests, but her relationship with her father, and one of her brothers in particular, is as much of a focus as her love life. The fictional island of Mure is a charming place which provides a compelling backdrop to the story.

This is a light, comfortable summer beach read with a few deeper moments, and it will definitely make you hungry both for food and to visit Scotland.

Flora is definitely, absolutely sure that escaping from the quiet Scottish island where she grew up to the noise and hustle of the big city was the right choice. What was there for her on Mure? It's a place where everyone has known her all her life, and no one will let her forget the past. In the city, she can be anonymous, ambitious and indulge herself in her hopeless crush on her gorgeous boss, Joel.
When a new client demands Flora's presence back on Mure, she's suddenly swept back into life with her brothers (all strapping, loud and seemingly incapable of basic housework) and her father. As Flora indulges her new-found love of cooking and breathes life into the dusty little pink-fronted shop on the harbour, she's also going to have to come to terms with past mistakes - and work out exactly where her future lies...