I’ve read a number of Jane Linfoot’s St Aidan (loose) series, mainly the Little Wedding Shop By the Sea ones, and actually I discovered I’d missed out the previous Little Cornish Kitchen ones, so this is about third in that series within a series (various characters and locations from the Little Wedding Shop series pop up in this) and there is a group of established friends, the “mermaids” who play an important role in this one, only one of whom I’d encountered before. So for completeness’ sakes and so as not to know the outcome for everyone else in the previous books, it might be an idea to read these in order.

I need to say right away too that there is a big trigger warning for baby loss and infertility issues/treatment to this book. I can’t give details as both play quite a large part in the plot, but it’s definitely worth noting. There’s also a pet in peril (twice) but that’s more positively resolved.

Jane Linfoot – “Tea for Two at the Little Cornish Kitchen”

(2 December 2021)

One other important thing to say about this book is that, like Linfoot’s other stories, it’s a nice, chunky substantial volume, coming in at over 400 pages, so we get room for a lot of plot and character development (and a lot of characters), which is lovely and makes you feel this was written for itself rather than the standalone seasonal books you get which seem written to order.

We meet Cressida, aka Cressida Cupcake, an overnight Internet sensation who suddenly crashes when she exhibits a soggy bottom on a TV cookery programme. Overnight again her book deal and sponsors fade away – but fortunately she’s already hiding out in the lovely Cornish village of St Aidan, pet-sitting for her brother and his wife, who are off on honeymoon. Clemmie has left a standing invitation to be part of her friendship group, something Cressida has not really had before, and while she thinks she can stand alone, soon she’s accepting their support and one of the girls. But who’s this hoving up on the horizon, locuming at the vets as he tries to piece together his career after an accident? Yes, it’s her old love, with whom she has some very sad history.

Although it says it’s a “Pure delight” on the cover, this book is deeper than that. It covers some difficult themes (well) and emphasises the need to communicate and be open even about those difficult things, and has another theme of the old people’s home in the village, which is threatened when new rules and regulations come into play, and needs some fundraising. Cressy pulls herself together after her disaster and starts offering baking classes to first the residents of the home and then the villagers. Yes, there are disasters, but can this help her to realise everything doesn’t have to be picture-perfect and she can accept herself as she is?

A basically kind book about the power of community (this always features in this series) and friendship, as well as baking (there are some lovely looking recipes in the back), and realistic and detailed about social media “careers”, but with the caveat it might be a little raw if the issues I mention above are triggering for you. The pets in the book do end up OK, thank goodness, and Jane Linfoot avoids the risk of tying everything up too, too perfectly.

I was invited to download and read this book via NetGalley by the lovely folk at One More Chapter (thank you, Sara!) in return for an honest review. The e-book is out on 30 January and the paperback in early February.