Katie is desperate to leave her stressful job, so she doesn’t think too hard about moving to Devon to run a B&B, even if it means uprooting her family. She is certain that she and Jason have a strong and loving relationship which can weather any storm.
Hooked by the beauty of Torringham with its quaint harbour and stunning coastline, they purchase Flotsam Guesthouse which needs more than a lick of paint to keep it afloat. Soon, Katie finds that renovating and running a guesthouse is taking its toll, especially when dealing with challenging guests and madcap neighbours, Shona and Kim. Katie comes to learn that trouble is afoot whenever Shona begs a favour.
However, when her adored daughter moves back to their old hometown, she wonders if they’ve made a huge mistake, especially when cracks begin to show in her marriage.
Her seaside idyll is crumbling along with her relationship. Should she let Flotsam Guesthouse founder while she salvages her marriage? Katie needs to decide where her priorities lie. The only issue is, she doesn’t know.
Everything about this book, from the witty and extremely apt title to the satisfying ending, is excellent. It’s a total joy to read.
Kate and Jason are living the dream – or at least what they thought would be a dream – by taking on a seaside B&B. They are like lambs to the slaughter. The hospitality industry is a tough one, and trust me, I speak from experience! There are added complications in the vengeful sabotage perpetrated by the previous owners, who feel they were cheated over the sales price, and there are tensions bubbling away on the domestic front. Those, not surprisingly given the stress and difficulty of their new lives, rise to the surface. However, throughout there’s humour and wry observation.
Kate, the almost ever-coping, is a wonderful, sympathetic narrator. We’re with her every step of the way through this crazy, challenging episode in her life, and while we’re rooting for her, we can’t help but enjoy all the upheaval going on around her.
The author has a sure, light touch. She creates convincing characters and all-too-convincing scenarios. She authentically recreates the hospitality slash hostility trade in all its dubious glory. The story line has interesting twists and turns that you don’t see coming, but when you look back realise that they were inevitable for these characters. Now that’s a sign of really good writing.
A wonderful book, which it’s impossible not to enjoy from start to finish.
While ‘Bedlam & Breakfast at a Devon Seaside Guesthouse’ is fictional, I am a guesthouse owner. Thankfully, we have been blessed with lots of amazing and kind-hearted guests, who are nothing like some of the characters featured in this novel and the subsequent books in the series. I would be a lot greyer if they were.
Likewise, Jason is quite different to my husband, who I sometimes nickname Victor Meldrew. He is lovely though and has a fab sense of humour, although some of his dryness has rubbed off on Jason.
Bedlam & Breakfast is set in South Devon, in the fictional town of Torringham, which is loosely based on Brixham. If you’ve been to Brixham you may recognise some of the local features, including the seals, fishing industry and the fantastic lifeboat crew, but the businesses, people and a number of settings are fictionalised.
The same applies to the B&B owners featured. Many guesthouse owners undertake work when they move into a property and our current B&B was not an exception. While, thankfully, our previous owners were nothing like Jim and Maureen, this also means we don’t get to live next door to the fabulous Shona and Kim. But we do have many lovely B&B friends. B&Bers are a wonderful and hardworking bunch, although the ones we know have a perchant for parties in the low season. That’s why I had to end Bedlam & Breakfast at a party.
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