Most helpful positive review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2014
I think if I could have given this book 4.5 stars, I would have done so, because it really was a fantastically enjoyable book. However, as Jenny's note points out, this book started out because everyone wanted to find out what happened next and the storyline bears a lot of signs of building castles in the air. Some of the plot-lines really are ridiculous and could only work in a Christmas special. Moreover, (admittedly because I enjoyed it so much), I started re-reading the original book and immediately spotted some continuity errors that undermined the plot of the sequel. Unless Australia changed their immigration system in the year or so since the start of the first book.
That said, it does work, largely because the writing is so warm and confident. It makes for a lovely read.
It's a very different story to the first book as well. Sweetshop of Dreams was more of a rambling book, set over a longer period of time and describing how a lot of the characters' lives slowly change over the course of several months. This book presupposes that we know the characters, the village and the issues in the background. Roy Blaine, the dentist, for example, shows up all of once in person and the book relies on the colourful impression he made in the previous story to get the point across. It makes for a tight read - the hard work of establishing the characters has already been done and we can just enjoy the snapshot of their lives at Christmas.
This is not to say that there isn't anything new. Rosie's family are wonderful, and I've grown to love Stephen almost as much as I love Rosie over the course of this novel.
Spoiler - (It's down to the dog, it really is)
It's a lovely book, though. It is very much a Christmas special, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's the long, detailed epilogue to a wonderful story.