A Study of Grief and Survival
Sophie’s Bakery For The Broken Hearted by Lolly Winston follows a year in the life of newly widowed thirty six year old Sophie Stanton. You may think at first that this will be a gloomy novel, but far from it. There were moments in the book when I literally laughed out loud.
Lolly Winston has written a very sensitive, moving and realistic novel, and it was easy to empathise with Sophie.
Sophie had been married to Ethan for just three years when he died from cancer. Her mother had been killed when Sophie was a teenager. She has no children and feels alone in the world. Life holds no purpose for her. The reader follows Sophie during those painful first twelve months as she tries everything to fill the empty void. Sophie journeys from raw grief to acceptance.
People come alongside Sophie including teenager Crystal, whom Sophie meets as part of a mentor programme. Crystal too, has her problems and the reader just longs to ‘mother’ her.
The novel is a study of those early days of grief. Lolly Winston demonstrates her grasp of this complex subject as she presents characters who deal with grief very differently. I think the message that I took away from the book was that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to deal with grief, one merely has to struggle through the blackness in whatever way helps. Jill, Sophie’s father’s wife declares poignantly “I’ve decided it’s important to love the life you get and somehow learn to let go of the life you dreamed of.”
The novel is well written and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I recognised Sophie’s pain, and was cheering her on, as she coped with her new kind of normal. I empathised with her in her dealings with her mother-in-law Marion who approached grief and life very differently. I understood Sophie’s reluctance to part with Ethan’s things. Sophie is a totally delightful character. Even in her grief, she has a huge heart for people who are hurting. She gives of herself, even though at times, she just does not want to get out of bed. “I am matter, and the pain of missing him is anti matter, and when you put the two together, kaboom, there’s nothing left of me to get out of bed…”
As a mass market paperback, there are times when the odd four letter word is said, due to the subject matter or the character’s situations. I did not find it inappropriate or offensive, but feel I need to mention it, in case other readers are offended.
This is the first novel I have read by Lolly Winston, and I certainly hope she has written more, as I enjoyed her style of writing.