Aside from reading the distinctly un-joyful newspaper, and I no longer even do that every day, I rarely read anything nowadays other than that which is intended to bring pleasure. I regularly reject recommendations (usually by one of those people who admit only to picking up something they consider highbrow rather than what most of us actually read), I’ve put aside the research books which supported the writing of my novel*, and abandoned altogether the hard-going canon of so-called literary masterpieces. One of life’s best little luxuries is to find a new-to-me author whose writing I like. And it’s a bigger luxury to find that she’s written not only the book I’m reading, but several others too. Shortly before our recent holiday in Devon and whilst partaking of one of my favourite activities – drinking coffee with a good friend – the conversation turned to books and knowing that friend L is of a similar opinion in terms of preferring easy to read, enjoyable escapism, I gave her recommendation that I read Jessica Redland a try.
If I tell you that I have read seven (yes, SEVEN) of her books in a little over two weeks, and that I’ve never before read this many consecutive books by a single author (with the possible exception of Enid Blyton,) you might get an inkling of how I’m loving them. They’re not funny (I hate contrived laugh-out-loud books) but they are full of humour. They’re not sad either, but there’s pathos and poignancy and what you get is exactly as promised: uplifting stories of love and friendship. What really works for me is that, although each book is a stand alone story, there are links and intertwinings throughout and as each books develops the character of a previously minor contributor I’d recommend reading them in order. Inevitably I have favourites. Aside from Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove and Coming Home to Seashell Cottage , I especially enjoyed Starry Skies over the Chocolate pot Cafe, still stand-alone but really needs to be read after Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes where Tara, proprietor of the Chocolate Pot also plays a key part. I’ve yet to read the newer Hedgehog Hollow series – something to look forward to.
The setting chosen is Ms Redland’s home of North Yorkshire, and given that two of the most well known coastal towns in the area are Whitby and Scarborough, it’s perhaps no great surprise that they provided the inspiration for the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay. Several of the stories centre around the shops in Castle Street and focus on the lives (and loves) of its shopkeepers and as I read them so the images conjured up grew; I can now exactly picture the street. I was in Whitby last September when we went on the steam train tour, and you may recall me saying since that it is on my list of places to re-visit. Indeed, we have talked about holidaying there next year, not least so that I can climb the steps to the Abbey which I missed out on last year due to that slow-healing broken foot!
I wondered how come I’d not heard of Jessica before now so I did a little research and discovered that not only did I like her books but I’m pretty sure I’d like her too! She lists her interests as writing and reading (a big tick against those), stationery (remember my post about my love affair with notebooks and the subsequent one about pens?), chocolate (more a passionate obsession than love affair) and bears. OK, I haven’t written about bears but look out for a post soon because I did mention a couple of weeks ago that I was knitting teddy bear trousers! Oh, we also both have HR and training background. How much of a coincidence is that?
There’s a back story to Jessica’s publication route which I’ll leave you to read for yourself on her blog which has been running for several years (I’m going to work my way through it…as fellow blog fans will know is exactly what we do when we happen upon one we like). Her latest blog post is an interesting one about Imposter syndrome. Coincidentally, I researched this very subject for a training session that I delivered to a group of women team leaders in the company I worked for about twelve years ago.
Find Jessica at: https://jessicaredlandwriter.wordpress.com/
*If you have been reading my blog since the early days (three and a half years) you may recall that I have written a novel inspired by my parents’ love story and set during the Korean War. Memo to self … put some proper effort into finding an agent or publisher to see whether it’s as good as I hope.