Vivien’s Heavenly Ice Cream Shop – Abby Clements

If books can be beach reads, then this ticks the boxes all the way round. For even the setting for the Ice Cream Shop of the title is in fact on the beach. Brighton beach.

The Ice Cream parlour is about to change hands when its former owner, dies. It is left not to her sons but to her granddaughters, Imogen and Anna, it was obviously Vivien’s wish for these two sisters to make their childhood memories of the place into more of a reality.

However there is a few problems along the way. Imogen is in fact miles away in Thailand and only intended returning for her grandmothers funeral as she wants to carry on her life as a photography artist. Anna has a busy job and has just settled into her first flat with her boyfriend, Jon. Their father seems to have taken the death of his mother badly and is not communicating and their aunt and uncle want to take over and sell not just their grandmother’s house but also the ice cream parlour, thinking it would make life a lot easier all round. It is not going to be easy for Anna and Imogen.

Along with family conflicts there is the locals where the ice cream shop is situated. They lost a friend when Vivien died and also the support that the local business community generates on this part of Brighton Beach. Can Anna and Imogen try and bring some of that back even when it looks like someone thinks otherwise.

The sisters try and make a go of it. It is inevitable that they will make a hash of it to start off with, and some of the decisions they make and the people they alienate mean they learn a lot very quickly. However, the two women learn about themselves, And whilst there is plenty of romance for the reader, it is also in some way a novel where two women really face the choices they have made in life so far and whether they are the right ones to fulfil their ambitions. This is all served up with lashings of descriptions of ice cream and the varying flavours, pure indulgence for ice cream lovers.

It is a light read, which is enjoyable but there is a lot packed into the story and I wanted to know more about the ice cream parlour of Vivien’s day which I am sure would have given us a lot more about Vivien who we only really know about through her remaining family. I would like to have seen her character developed more. Also when Anna went to Italy learning about gelato and flavours could have been expanded a lot more, it was a very contained part of the story which although I knew the obvious was going to happen it could have had a couple of twists added in to make it a bit more exciting. However, I made do with what there was (a sequel or a prequel perhaps to satisfy my curiosity?) ¬†and this is certainly a read for the summer and I enjoyed it and although I am not a fan of ice cream, I certainly wanted to try some of the flavours out!

Let’s share ice cream flavours – I am a lover of Mint Choc Chip and also the cookie dough of the Ben and Jerry’s fame. Because raw cake/biscuit mixture does not count as calories does it? But then the book offers up such delights as Champagne Sorbet or Salted Caramel, Earl Grey Sorbet or Strawberries and Cream. I bet your mouth is watering now……