The Cake Shop in the Garden by Carole Matthews

23262632I finished this book in two days, but I’m still not sure what to think of it.

Fay Merryweather lives in the house she grew up in at 41, working as a full-time carer to her bed-ridden mother (by her own choice) and running a cake shop out of the house and garden, which sits on the canal in Milton Keynes. Fay does everything she’s supposed to, regardless of her own feelings. Her sister has long decamped to New York as the mistress of a married partner in the law firm where she worked (but she’s been sacked since then) and her father died twenty odd years ago. Her mother treats her like crap and her partner, Anthony, is a drip. My favorite bit is that he is the director of a handbell choice, which Fay cannot stand the sound of. As a former handbell ringer, that just tickled me.

Fay’s life starts to liven up with Danny Wilde, former City worker who up and bought a narrowboat six months ago, stops by Fay’s shop and starts to do odd jobs. Though he’s at least 10 years younger than her, they’re attracted to each other. Fay’s shop also employs a Latvian girl named Lija, who is pretty much my favorite person in the whole book. She’s brusque, but loves Fay and makes excellent cakes.

Danny’s entrance into Fay’s life starts to wake her up a bit, but she’s weight down by responsibilities (both actual and self-imposed), so she can’t act like she should. Then it all goes to hell and hell some more. Some of the twists were obvious and others less so, which made it an enjoyable read. I did want to strangle Fay on more than one occasion, though she’d probably just let me and apologize for making me do it.

It was a nice glimpse into a life outside of London and it made me want to get to know more about the system of canals in the UK (which I loved when I visited Maida Vale a couple of years ago). Maybe next trip!