Book review: The Little Flower Shop by the Sea by Ali McNamara

18 Aug

little flower shop by the seaThe blossom is out in the little Cornish harbour town of St Felix

But Poppy Carmichael’s spirits aren’t lifted by the pretty West Country spring. Inheriting her grandmother’s flower shop has forced her to return to Cornwall, a place that holds too many memories.

Poppy is determined to do her best for the sake of her adored grandmother, but she struggles with the responsibility of the more-shabby-than-chic shop. And with the added complication of Jake, the gruff but gorgeous local flower grower, Poppy is very tempted to run away…

The pretty little town has a few surprises in store for Poppy. With new friends to help her and romance blooming, it’s time for Poppy to open her heart to St Felix and to the special magic of a little flower shop by the sea!

By now I think most regular readers of this blog will know that I love books set by the sea and especially the British seaside. Combine my favourite type of setting with one of my favourite authors and surely it’s a recipe for a brilliant book? The answer is of course a resounding ‘Yes!’ As soon as I saw that Ali McNamara’s new novel would be a seaside set summer release I got very excited and I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I think The Little Flower Shop By the Sea is Ali’s best book yet.

Why did I love this book so much? Firstly, the setting; the story takes place in the town of St Felix in Cornwall, a town that Ali has admitted is based on St Ives. I’ve visited St Ives for the last two years and love it there – it’s the place I’d choose to live if it wasn’t an epic commute to my job! Ali has taken the essence of Cornwall and St Ives and captured it in the book. I had no trouble imagining the streets, sights and sounds of St Felix and I could easily picture Poppy’s wonderful little flower shop tucked away by the sea.

The characters were my second reason for enjoying this book so much. I often find that I like the lead character in a story and a couple of the supporting cast but what surprised me most about this novel was how much I remembered about a lot of the individuals in it and how I looked forward not just to finding out what would happen to Poppy next but also to all of the other inhabitants and newcomers to St Felix. Although Poppy is pivotal, Ali has created a full and blossoming community in St Felix.  From a love interest with teenage children to Poppy’s new age new flatmate and an eccentric castle owner, the book is populated with a brilliant variety of characters of all ages.

Thirdly I enjoyed the twist that Poppy who has just inherited a flower shop actually hates flowers. The Little Flower Shop by the Sea has many moments that made me smile but also addresses grief, loss, anxiety and loneliness in a poignant yet truthful way. The writing is heartfelt and I suspect Ali put a lot of herself into this book. I found Poppy’s struggle to move forward from the events of her past very moving and believable.

And finally – I loved the magic and romance of this book. There have been many books focusing on a character moving to a new town to take on a business they’ve inherited in recent years but Ali has done a brilliant job of making the theme her own and adding a good spoonful of romance and magic to the mix. I thought the flower theme very well done and I liked the little touches such as flower chapter headings with their meanings and the anecdotes that are told about how the flowers bought from the shop over the years have affected the recipients.

If you enjoyed Lucy Diamond’s Beach Cafe you will love this book. I very much hope Ali revisits St Felix or some of it’s occupants in future novels.


The Little Flower Shop by the Sea is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy via Netgalley.

Find out more about Ali and her writing at:


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