This book has made a timely appearance in my opinion. With the recent BBC series of Paradise based on a Emilie Zola novel and Mr Selfridge based on Lindy Woodhead’s book. This novel taps into the wonder of the department store. The characters of those who fight to get the sales in their department, those behind the scenes that keep it running, moving and accounting for everything as well as the top floor cafe – in this case serving delicious cupcakes; welcome to Cupcakes at Carrington’s.
This is the first in what is going to be a series of novels, so this is very much for me a setting the scene for what could be about to happen. We meet Sam, owner of the Cupcake Cafe, who has a wonderful way of knowing what is going on throughout the store. Eddie the personal assistant of the managing director who is known as ‘The Heff’ knows secrets but would never divulge, discretion is his key word and that becomes apparent towards the end of the novel when Eddie finds himself divulging secrets unwillingly. Ciaran, a waiter in the cafe is in a relationship with Tina, who works in accounts at the store and is the golden couple that all places have when there is a huge amount of staff. All of these are friends with Georgie the main protagonist of the story who is battling selling handbags to those who do not realise they need one as well as battle surviving outside the walls of Carrington. Just to make life even more interesting, throw into the mix a handsome stranger and a dangerous Russian and for Georgie it becomes a battle for the balance of what is right and wrong. Her actions could affect more than herself.
Of course the shop is going to go through a tough time and changes are going to have to happen – Carrington needs to maximise everything it has – in steps Maxine. The woman who will sort it all out. But with Maxine, it is not going to be that easy and suddenly all those who you feel are not just colleagues but as friends as well, are suddenly going to turn into your rival. It will be survival of the most profit.
Surely there is something that can help all these characters that you grow to love as the shop continues to trade? Of course but I am not going to tell you, you will have to go through the doors of Carrington’s and find out for yourself, I think you might like what is for sale there.
This is Alexandra Brown’s début novel and it is a good starting point. My only obvious criticism is it took me a while to work out exactly where the department store was – the UK or America? I quickly realised it was not America due to the language but was very surprised to find it in a seaside town. However, it did not spoil my enjoyment of the book and I look forward to the next because I want to know what happens in other parts of the store as well as those characters that have I got to know in this novel.
I had this book on pre-order and picked it because I do like books that feature a group of people, an ensemble as you will and rather than a big house which is my first love, it was just simply a big shop! It still had that hierarchy that makes for great story lines and this is a series of books where I am interested in how it is going to go. My only frustration is that I have to wait now for the next one, that is the trouble when you start out at the beginning of a series – I do like it when I discover series where I have lots to catch up on.
I have been watching Mr Selfridge and have the book to read at some point as well. I am not quite sure about the programme at the moment, it could be something that grows I feel. However, when I think department store, other than the lovely Fortnum and Mason’s and H.A.Rods (Harrods to the uninitiated) I automatically think of Are You Being Served, a programme I grew up with and it is the theme tune, that makes me think of these wonderful buildings that held everything, different things on different floors……..
Perfumery, stationary, and leather goods, wigs and haberdashery, kitchenware and food. Going up…
Telephones, gents ready made suits, shirts, suits, ties, hats, underwear, and shoes. Going up…
Carpets, travel goods, and bedding, materials, soft furnishings, restaurants, and ties. Going down…
Telephones, gents ready made suits, shirts, suits, ties, hats. Going down…
If you want to actually listen then click here oh it brings back memories. Although I will note that I do not think this novel is anything like Grace Brothers but it is a novel that has some very up to date relevant comments and certainly makes it a book of it’s time which is what I am getting at. If you see my point? No, well never mind I know what I mean.
Do you know of any other novels based in a department store? I would be intrigued to see if this is an area where we need more novels based in such places.