Anyone who has been able to lift the spirits from Swain’s great novels Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square, Poppy’s Recipe for Life and The Winter Garden will already be familiar with the small community living in a cozy corner of the bustling city of Norwich.
Swain, who lives with her family in scenic South Norfolk, has won thousands of hearts with her enchanting stories set in Wynbridge, the fictional Fenland town where love blossoms in all seasons.
And now she’s found an idyllic urban retreat for heartwarming and entertaining stories that showcase her talent for marrying escapist romance, domestic drama and a perfectly crafted cast of characters with real-world challenges in the modern world.
So if you’re longing to catch up with some familiar names — and a delightful bunch of new ones — then meet the gorgeous Beth, a caring, twice-heartbroken young woman struggling to come to terms with the untimely death of her mother… and who could possibly find the new beginnings she craves in the warm and welcoming Nightingale Square?
Beth grew up in a house full of melodies and inherited her mother’s sweet singing voice, but music died for Beth two years ago when her mother died, leaving her bereft and determined that she herself would never hear or sing a note again would.
And after a love affair broke her heart too, Beth’s first love is now her work at the Edith Cavell Care Home in Norwich, where she looks after the mischievous and mostly cheerful elderly residents. But she doesn’t love the cramped and dirty house she shares with three others who treat her like their Skivvy.
When a nursing home resident introduces her to some of the residents of cozy Nightingale Square, Beth jumps at the opportunity to move there and share a home with the lovely Eli, who works at a local coffee shop.
Meanwhile, her neighbors in Nightingale Square — “nice people are our kind of people,” Beth is told — welcome the new arrivals with open arms, and when she needs help organizing a fundraiser for the nursing home, they gather.
But then Beth discovers that The Arches, a local creative arts center that preserves many memories for her, has closed and the company to replace it needs her help too. As old wounds are reopened and past secrets unearthed, Beth must finally confront the music she thought had shut her out of her life.
Can her friends at the nursing home and the people of Nightingale Square help her find a way to love it again?
If you need a book hug to escape the worries of the world, look no further than this magical tale of love, caring, and kindness. Kindness and understanding are written on every page as compassionate Beth’s new life and love begins to blossom amid the genuine friendships and community efforts of close-knit neighbors.
Laughter, tears and smiles are guaranteed as we are treated to fascinating news about Kate, Luke, Poppy and the other Nightingale Square characters that make our visits there such a pleasure, and share moments of joy as we watch Beth and Eli become more than just housemates.
Add the musical theme that runs like a thread through the story 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)