Book Review: Sunrise by the Sea

Jenny Colgan’s Sunrise by the Sea is a warm hug of a book. Like all of Colgan’s novels, I simply couldn’t put this one down. Not only was the plot engaging and just generally well-written, but the worlds she creates are so cozy I just never want to leave.

After the sudden death of her grandfather, Marisa drifted further and further away from her life. She felt mired in a pool of grief, unable to move on with her life. Her anxiety and depression caused fractures in all of her relationships, pushing her frighteningly close to agoraphobia. When she’s forced to move to Mount Polbearne, she begins the healing process. Meanwhile, our beloved Mount Polbearne residents are quite intrigued by the newest arrival. Polly and Huckle are floundering financially, striving to find a way to stay afloat after several bad tourist seasons. Can the inhabitants whether the latest storms, literally and figuratively, and find a way to help one another?

Marisa is such a relatable character, trying desperately to overcome her anxiety and regain her life. She feels thwarted at every turn, as even her new home– a home she thought was so perfect!– suddenly feels threatened by her music teacher neighbor and very thin walls. As she works to become who she wants to be, she must face her greatest fears and flaws head on.

I love how Colgan brings us back to the worlds she’s already built so we can revisit beloved characters and check in. I do wish I could request a book where our poor beloved heroes don’t suffer; I understand this is counterintuitive and probably not what anyone else on earth craves, but I so want to read light and happy accounts of my favorite fictional friends out and about living their lives. While Marisa’s story is our main focus in Sunrise by the Sea, we still get plenty of face time with Polly, Huckle and crew via a third person omniscient narrator.

Colgan’s wit and humor are a highlight of every book. Even when the topics are heavier, Colgan includes lighter moments and hilarious dialogue to balance out the tone. Her books are the kind where you can’t help but laugh out loud, picturing the zany events these characters engage in, and the witty banter that flows seemingly effortlessly.

Spending time in a Jenny Colgan book is like taking a mental vacation; you get to completely leave your world behind and feel fully engrossed in the fictional locales she conjures up that feel just as real as anywhere you’ve been. Her wit and humor are encased in a well-paced plot with lovable characters, sharing insight and encouraging deeper thought on our relationships with one another.

Sunrise by the Sea is the fourth book in the Little Beach Street Bakery series and is available now.

Background photo in cover graphic is by Sally Mitchell from Pexels.

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