This was an unexpectedly lovely and comforting read. Set in Leicester, England during the late 1960s, the novel is a self-described ‘heartwarming saga’ and that seems about right. It opens with our main character, the naïve but big-hearted Josie Rawlins, living with her grandmother and working at the family’s market stall. Through a series of unfortunate events, 19 year old Josie loses her home, her job and her grandmother in one week. She must fend for herself in a world that she is largely unprepared for. Although the details of her unfortunate week strain credulity, I found myself less bothered by this plot point than I thought I would be, as the novel doesn’t dwell there- instead it follows Josie as she turns optimistically towards a better future. There are all the hallmarks you would expect from a ‘heartwarming saga’ about a young woman growing up- Josie learns lessons, makes friends, gains life experience, suffers setbacks personally and professionally, and ultimately gets a love story and a happy ending.
I’m sure it is somewhat related to my having read this novel in anxious times, but I really enjoyed this read. Where I might usually have found some of the stereotypical characters or unrealistic plot points grating, it didn’t fuss me here. Maybe all I need is the novel equivalent of a hug and a nice cup of tea.