PUBLISHED: 13:12 07 July 2015 | UPDATED: 13:03 30 August 2017



Chick-lit writer Jenny Colgan warms us to the pleasures of the good life, with cheering tales from her Cornish town of Mount Polbearne

Chick-lit writer Jenny Colgan warms us to the pleasures of the good life,with cheering tales from her Cornish town of Mount Polbearne where hearts are mended and cakes are baked, and baked, and baked, writes EMMA PARFITT

Life is, at present on an even keel for author Jenny Colgan.This spring sees the publication of a captivating sequel to her bestselling Little Beach Street Bakery that spent three weeks last year bobbing around the Sunday Times’ Top Ten listings and sold an impressive 100,000 copies in ten weeks.

Her heartwarming tale centres around Polly who: moves to a Cornish seaside town and bakes, and bakes, and bakes, to mend her broken heart as she recovers from a toxic relationship.’

We were literally hooked into the story of Polly Waterford and the puffed-up characterful puffin, injured Neil, penned in by Jenny by special request from her editor to lighten the mood. He completely stole the show; it was very surprising!’ Jenny tells us.

Maybe it was surprising to be upstaged by a puffin, but Jenny has an innate talent in turning her pen to entertain, as if she is just chatting to a friend. She sweetens many a coffee break with her pastel- jacketed Cornish scene setters.

A self-confessed bookworm as a child, by her own admission. I can literally write anywhere - on trains, aeroplanes, coffee shops- anywhere with a buzz of white background noise suits me very well. Sitting on my own in total silence in an office doesn’t work very well - I like to get out and about,’ she tells us.

So, are we picking up the crumbs of Jenny’s own baking passion through her novel’s pages? The answer is true to life - yes, she admits to making a mean cinnamon roll’. I just love baking bread absolutely adore it- and of course I love Cornwall near Mousehole. I bet everyone says that, don’t they?’

And has she a sweet tooth? No,’ she says. Oddly enough I don’t really. I love salty things - I’d rather have a piece of cheese than a piece of chocolate.’

But is she as sweet as Polly in real life? Polly is far sweeter and more patient than me, and she works harder too… but she looks like my friend Lisa Haste, who has the perfect natural strawberry blonde hair which I am very jealous of.’

Close to home, we imagine a picture of cosy domesticity. Her three children and marine engineer husband have, she tells us, launched a campaign to get a dog and some chickens!’ yells her five-year-old, whenever this comes up; as she is trying to tie up the deal, as the family is shortly to relocate from London to Edinburgh.

Will the move be a smooth one, we can not help but wonder. Jenny admits to being rather absent-minded and forever losing things’ - but makes up for this by: being good at planning, and I like to know what I’m doing well in advance- I’m the one holding the plane tickets!’

So before she taxies off to Edinburgh, does she have further projects to draft in? In addition to publishing her new story for children Polly and the Puffin, she finishing an audio-play and writing another children’s book about puffin Neil.

It could also be time for a Colgan puppy to make the household home sometime soon. She whispers to us: 'I think the dog is coming… (And some chickens!’ we hear the smart refrain fly across the room).So, she has first-hand knowledge of her young target audience, but has she always enjoyed writing children’s stories? I have,’ she admits. But it’s taken a while to get it right. They’re absolutely pitiless critics - children. If they don’t like something you’ll know about it!’

She still reads as widely as she can, and, as yet, she has never met a successful writer who wasn’t also a passionate reader. It’s the best training you can get and its fun!’ she adds.

She devours the pages of anything that is good- whether that is Lee Child for a fabulous thriller, or Ali Smith for something beautiful and awe-inspiring, you can work in whatever style you want- it’s the quality that shines through.’

Quality is something that Jenny is streets ahead on - her narrative has a spellbinding quality. She has also written science-fiction under a pseudonym for the Doctor, of Doctor Who fame, penning three now, and I’m so fond of them all,’ she says.

So is life falling into place now? I have the sense that any day now, everything in my life is going to fall into place and run smoothly and hooray! I’ll have somehow figured out this whole “life” business.’ But then, she says something else totally falls out of whack, and I am chasing my tail again.’

Reviewers describe her stories as Feel-good, heartwarming, utterly charming and delightful. Neil, the injuredpuffin also flies in the tweeting public, with a Twitter tag @neilthepuffin.

So, aside from Neil, what are her favourite things? Her answers are plentiful. Plenty of sleep, plenty of wine and plenty of laughter. And the people you love.’

So we can see Jenny’s recipe for a good life might be a good mix of visits to restaurants, hot baths, paddling, gin and tonics and going to bed early - with a good book, to which her readers will almost certainly agree.

Join us in sharing Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery for its sweet appeal, and a really cool puffin to hop from its pages to tweet to woo,’ or whatever a Cornish Puffin tweets about these days.

This feature first appeared in Cornwall Life May 2015 issue

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