I recently had Sally Jenkins as a guest on my blog answering my Author in the Spotlight questions and telling us a bit about her debut novel, Little Museum of Hope. You can read that interview here: Sally Jenkins Spotlight. I’m pleased to share my review of the book today.
About the book
Meet Vanessa. She’s newly divorced and starting again at fifty-five. Her ex’s affair was a nasty surprise that ended their thirty-year marriage.
But with a son who’s flown the nest and her husband gone, it’s time for Vanessa to find a new challenge.
Either that or choose to grow old and bitter alone . . .
Vanessa decides to make her dream of opening a teashop come true. It’s now or never.
But running a successful teashop is harder than it looks. With customers proving hard to come by, Vanessa’s on the verge of being left with nothing — again.
Then she comes across an article about the Museum of Broken Relationships, where the rejected and lovelorn flock to shed the symbols of their shattered dreams.
This gives Vanessa a brilliant idea. She opens up her shop to the broken-hearted and her little teashop soon becomes a haven for jilted lovers.
Vanessa is always on hand to offer a cup of tea and a listening ear. But can the museum help Vanessa to heal her own heart . . . and perhaps find a second chance at love?
I think that many women will identify with how Vanessa feels at the beginning of the story. Her identity has been wrapped up in her roles as wife, mother and teacher. With her marriage having broken down following her husband’s affair, their son living in Canada and enforced early retirement from the job she loved, it’s no wonder she felt a bit lost. I admired how she responded to all these challenges by opening up a teashop and turning it into a museum of sorts.
As you’ll have read in the info about the book, the idea of this museum is that people donate items associated with broken relationships of many sorts, a symbolic way of leaving the past behind. The individual stories were often desperately sad but the items being donated showed that the people had found the courage to move on and that hope can be found in even the darkest situations. “Children fly the nest, jobs and partners rarely last for life. Sometimes the best things emerge from the worst things.”
This was certainly the case for many of the characters in the book, many of whom we get to know a bit more. Not only does donating something to the museum help them to leave parts of their past behind but for some of the characters it offers opportunities for a new start. As an aside, it was a nice surprise to find a character called Joanne. It’s not very often that my name pops up in a book!
I liked Vanessa as a character, although sometimes I felt she was a little too probing about the reasons why people brought their items to the museum! It was lovely to read though how she viewed her teashop and museum not just as a business but as somewhere that could really make a difference in people’s lives. “At the Little Museum of Hope we want to feed your soul. The aim of our menu is to offer the closest thing possible to an edible hug.” I think that many people really felt the warmth and comfort of the teashop and museum.
Little Museum of Hope is a warm and enjoyable read showing that putting the past behind you and finding new opportunities is possible at any stage of life and that there is always hope.
Many thanks to ChocLit for sending me a digital copy of the book for review.
You can purchase Little Museum of Hope here
About the Author
Sally Jenkins lives in the West Midlands of England. When not writing, she feeds her addiction to words by working part-time in her local library, running two reading groups and giving talks about her writing. Sally can also be found walking, church bell ringing and enjoying shavasana in her yoga class.
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