It’s the weekend again, folks; unfortunately one full of night shifts for me, but never mind, to brighten it up I’m delighted to be taking part on the blog tour for Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain. Thank you as always to Harriett Collins and Team BATC for inviting me to take part and for my truly scrumptious package, including book and treats.
Firstly, a little bit about the book
Treat yourself to a glorious novel full of food, sunshine, friendship and love!
Things haven’t always been straightforward in Poppy’s life but her dreams are finally within her reach.
She’s moving into a cottage in beautiful Nightingale Square, close to the local community garden, where she can indulge her passion for making preserves and pickles. She may not have the best relationship with her family but she is surrounded by loving friends, and feels sure that even her grumpy new neighbour, Jacob, has more to him than his steely exterior belies.
But the unexpected arrival of Poppy’s troubled younger brother soon threatens her new-found happiness and as the garden team works together to win community space of the year, Poppy must decide where her priorities lie and what she is prepared to fight for…
Poppy’s Recipe for Life is published by Simon & Schuster and was available to buy from 30th May 2019 in paperback and digital forms…
Whether it be summer or Christmas, heading back to Wynbridge, Wynthorpe Hall or Nightingale Square, it is always a delight to be opening a new book from Heidi Swain; as you read those first few pages there’s just this gust of warmth that radiates straight out of it, instantly making you smile, as you realise you’re back with friends and about to make even more.
Poppy’s Recipe for Life takes us back to Nightingale Square where we meet Poppy, who works at the local greengrocers, where she not only sells the delicious fruit and veg, but also produces her own seasonal recipe cards of which seem to fly off the shelves! Up until now she’s also lived above the greengrocers, but it’s finally time for her to move into her dream house on Nightingale Square, where she’ll not only have access to the community garden she’s so longed for, but the perfect neighbouring community (many of whom she knows through her job) – well, almost perfect – it seems there’s one neighbour (also fairly new) who indeed matches his name – Mr Jacob Grizzle…
A spanner to Poppy’s perfect new life is thrown into the mix, when she finds out that her uncaring, absentee Mother is heading off to Spain, whilst leaving Poppy’s 16 year old brother, Ryan, to fend for himself. Poppy finds herself offering to take him in and him surprisingly agreeing…
Will Nightingale Square manage to work it’s magic on both Ryan and Jacob?!
If you’ve never read a Heidi Swain book, yet like the look of Poppy’s Recipe for Life (like who wouldn’t with that cover full of colour pop!) don’t worry, all her books can be read as standalones. Although, to get the most from her books and characters I do recommend you try to read them in some order, even if not the order released, perhaps try reading the Wynbridge, then Wynthorpe Hall and then Nightingale Square. I say this as what Heidi Swain is SO good at is the continuity – mentioning how characters from past books are getting along, or bringing up places that are very much central to other stories, linking them in. I can’t imagine this is the easiest to do without making it feel forced to a reader, but she has this knack of bringing them up in a story with such great ease!
The brother and sister relationship between Poppy and Ryan that’s at the centre of this story is a bit of a different road for this author, but I think it fitted really well in amongst everything else going on. As any teenager does, he brings a few complications to Poppy’s life where she has to find that balance between acting as his sister, yet at the end of the day being that older sibling with responsibility for him and acting like a parent – it was an interesting one, highlighting that trust that works both ways when dealing with teenagers – sometimes we’re very quick to stereotype them all (I have a soon to be 13 year old and I’ll admit I’m bad in always thinking the worst and my son often saying “Mum, you have to trust me!”). All in all I really liked Ryan, he’s a bit of a cheeky chappy, causing a bit of mischief whenever he can, and whilst you may instantly think ‘teenage tearaway’ when first meeting him, you may well find yourself being pleasantly surprised.
What is such an enjoyment to these books is that as soon as you step inside, you are hit by such a strong sense of community. It doesn’t matter if it’s Wynbridge, Wynthorpe Hall or Nightingale Square you’re visiting, it’s community that shines out at you. You wish these fictional places were real – if they were I’d have a bag packed and be off in no time at all! Whether we’re sat on the green outside Poppy’s house, or over at Prosperous Place in the garden, you can always really picture these characters together and the places they’re at.
The Grow-Well community garden has so much charm! The residents of Nightingale Square all take a small part in maintaining it – whether it be watering the plants, tending to the fruit and veg or looking after the hens; this gives them free use of the products, and they throw different events where everyone contributes to the food on the table with their own homemade delights from their taken ingredients. But it’s not only that, it brings people of all ages together, it provides friendships, it plays a part towards their wellbeing giving people a focus, a passion, a place to escape or belong – we need more of this from communities in the real world. I’m not a green-fingered person; to be honest I think it’s more that I wouldn’t know where to start than just not liking it, but Heidi’s writing makes you want to be in on this act and grow something yourself!
I wholeheartedly loved the savoury take in this novel; chutneys, jams, pickles – the same deliciousness, variety and colour that fruit and veg can bring to a table, to that of a cake or biscuit! Same goes for the main character working in a greengrocers rather than a teashop/bakery/cake shop – whilst these are wonderful in a story, I love my savoury foods (my son will tell you how much beetroot I eat, or how I love a huge bowl of rhubarb, how I can eat a whole jar of apple sauce with my Sunday lunch – I tell you: these are such underrated foods!!) and I loved this refreshing take!
Oh, and of course there’s romance! It’s a bit of a slow burner this one, a definite chalk and cheese affair, but with chemistry that’s definitely simmering away below, and whilst it may be predictable in the long run, there’s definitely some obstacles and surprises along the way.
There is so much to enjoy and take away from Poppy’s Recipe for life; it’s about food, friendship, community and relationships – of the sibling and romantic kinds and the mistrust and trust within them, and it’s all filled with Heidi Swain’s trademark warmth, humour and huge dollop of charm! I’m not sure which one of Heidi’s charming locations she’s taking me to next (fingers crossed a Christmas visit back to Wynthorpe Hall) but wherever it is I know I’m in for a treat…
About the author
Heidi lives in beautiful south Norfolk with her family and a mischievous cat called Storm. She is passionate about gardening, the countryside, collecting vintage paraphernalia and reading. Her tbr pile is always out of control!
Thank you for taking the time to read my review. As always, a little like or share to spread the word is always most appreciated. For all the other Poppy’s Recipe for Life blog tour stops, see below…