Twinkle Twinkle Little Bar – Isabella May

Please tell me that I am not the only mug to have googled whether or not the Cornish town of Pasty really exists or not! I must confess to being genuinely disappointed – I really wanted there to be a Pasty village!

River and Alice are living in Cornwall – in the town of Pasty, to be precise, where River is running a wine bar, but he seems to be a little ’over’ his love of Cornwall. I found this in itself rather shocking, as I didn’t not know how that could possible be! To add to River’s misery, his bar is haemorrhaging money, and he can’t bring himself to tell his partner how unhappy he is – she is of course blissfully happy in Cornwall – or so River thinks. If only the pair of them could communicate! I wanted to bang their heads together, despite having warmed to both characters!

River is just so kind – an example being the way that he could have taken his original bar back from his friends, but refuses to do so, despite the fact that his current business is not exactly flourishing. I also have the utmost admiration for how he wants to run his business – hellbent on sourcing the best quality ingredients, rather than going for the cheapest. I enjoyed how ginger seemed to be a very subtle but recurring comfort throughout River’s life and I recognised a real sense of pride in what he does and what he serves up to people, coupled with an admirable sense of community. Alice seemed an equally kind soul and they seemed a perfect match for each other in my opinion.

I loved the descriptive language in this book – the sense of the tastes and smells were sublime. In fact I may have let forth an involuntary drool at the description of River’s decadent hot chocolate drink, complete with Grand Marnier and blood orange zest! I could almost taste it; indeed I wanted to taste it! I did think that River could do worse than capture his hot chocolate ideas and morph them into a business of some kind; either a hot chocolate cafe/bar or selling hot chocolate balls – something of that ilk. After all, he clearly has a talent for capturing and encompassing flavours.

I adored the sense of family in this book; the way that Alice, despite not having the best relationship with her own family, had been wholeheartedly welcomed and integrated into River’s own close knit clan. I found myself enchanted by the way that they all treated Alice as one of their own.

I had a huge amount of unbridled respect for Zara – for the dogged way that she was trying to make for her own future, as opposed to falling into line with her siblings and surviving on trust fund money. Wow, what an amazing outlook she had.

I was completely taken with the idea of using River’s inherited camper van as the basis for a business, hopefully enabling him to share his mixology experience together with his undisputed gift for flavour and taste, in both senses of the word! I found his ideas enchanting and was captivated by his skills and newfound joi de vivre.

The writing in this book was gentle and intelligent and I found myself genuinely caring about what happened to the characters within it. I desperately wanted River and Alice to make twin successes of their relationship and their new business
venture. Almost as badly, I wanted the sparks of romance to fly between Zara and Bruno, River and Alice’s heavenly, self confessed ’ready to date’ baker friend. Oh my goodness, I found myself mesmerised by Bruno’s catalogue of goodies and it may just have invoked yet more dribble!

Despite my initial disappointment at the non existence of the Cornish village of Pasty, I thoroughly enjoyed this read, which I found to be a thought provoking, entertaining read. It exuded ‘Hygge’ and was perfect to get stuck into in the run up to the Festive season. I found myself desperately wanting to make hot chocolate, with steaming hot milk, the darkest chocolate, a swirl of whipped cream (‘proper’ cream, not the squirty kind), a sprinkling of dark chocolate shavings, a couple of mini marshmallows and all importantly, a freshly grated dusting of nutmeg. I recently discovered that my Sister uses ground ginger and has never seen, let alone used a whole nutmeg! So reader, in celebration of the tastes and flavours permeating throughout this book, promise me one thing; if you use the powdered versions of these spices just try letting the whole versions into your life, and when you do, take in a great big lungful of the scent and let it impregnate your mind and drift through your house like a cloud of bliss.

I do like a bit of a delve into the unknown and this book did not fail to deliver.

Will River and Alice make a success of their new business?

Will they settle back in Glastonbury or would they want to continue living in a nomadic style?

Will Zara and Bruno become an item, despite the MOST unpromising start?

To get these answers and more, you will of course need to read this enchanting book for yourself. So, start the milk heating, get your chocolaty drink of choice on the go and settle down for a sensational seasonal read.



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