Anyone who has had their spirits lifted by Swain’s gorgeous novels, Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square, Poppy’s Recipe for Life and The Winter Garden, will already know the small community living in a cosy corner of the bustling city of Norwich.
Swain, who lives with her family in picturesque south Norfolk, won thousands of hearts with her enchanting stories set in Wynbridge, the fictional Fenland town where love blossoms whatever the season.
And now she has found an idyllic city hideaway for heartwarming and entertaining stories which showcase her talent for blending escapist romance, domestic drama and a perfectly imagined cast of characters with real-life challenges in the modern world.
So if you yearn to catch up with some familiar names – and a delightful bunch of new ones – then meet the adorable Beth, a caring young woman with a twice broken heart who is struggling to come to terms with the premature death of her mother… and who might just find the new beginnings she yearns for in warm and welcoming Nightingale Square.
Beth was brought up in a house full of melody and has inherited her mother’s sweet singing voice but the music died for Beth two years ago when her mum died, leaving her bereft and adamant that she herself would never again listen to or sing another note.
And after a romantic relationship also broke her heart, Beth’s first love now is her job working in the Edith Cavell Care Home in Norwich, looking after its mischievous, and mostly merry, elderly residents. But she doesn’t love the cramped and dirty house she shares with three others who treat her as their skivvy.
So, when a resident of the care home introduces her to some of the inhabitants of cosy Nightingale Square, Beth jumps at the chance to move there and share a home with the lovely Eli who works at a local coffee house.
Meanwhile, her neighbours at Nightingale Square – ‘kind people are our kind of people,’ Beth is told – welcome the newcomer with open arms, and when she needs help to organise a fundraiser for the care home, they rally round.
But then Beth discovers that The Arches, a local creative arts centre which holds many memories for her, has closed and the venture to replace it needs their help too. As old wounds are opened and past secrets unearthed, Beth must finally face the music that she thought she had shut out of her life.
Can her friends at the care home and the people of Nightingale Square help her find a way to learn to love it again?
If you’re in need of a book hug to escape the worries of the world, look no further than this this magical tale of love, caring and kindness. Kindness and understanding are written across every page as the compassionate Beth’s new life and love start to blossom amidst the genuine friendships and community endeavours of the close-knit neighbours.
Laughter, tears and smiles are guaranteed as we are treated to intriguing updates on Kate, Luke, Poppy and the other characters from Nightingale Square who make our visits there such a delight, and share joyous moments watching Beth and Eli become more than just house mates.
Add on the musical theme that runs through the story like a golden thread, and the fun of meeting the charismatic residents of the Edith Cavell Care Home, and you have the perfect sunshine sparkler for spring and summer reading.
(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £8.99)