Ella’s Ice Cream Summer, by Sue Watson

Life hasn’t always been easy for single mum Ella, but she has just hit an all-time low; she’s jobless, loveless, very nearly homeless and, to make matters worse, now the owner of a pocket-sized pooch with a better wardrobe than her. 

Packing her bags (and a bigger one for the dog), Ella sets off for the seaside town of Appledore in Devon to re-live the magical summers of her youth and claim her portion of the family ice-cream business: a clapped-out ice-cream van and a complicated mess of secrets. 

There she meets gorgeous and free-spirited solicitor, Ben, who sees things differently: with a little bit of TLC he has a plan to get the van – and Ella – back up and running in no time. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

One of the biggest things I’ve always appreciated about Sue Watson’s novels, is the way she manages to always write characters I can completely identify with. Even if my current situation doesn’t parallel, it never matters, because I’ve been there. I’ve felt as though I’ve hit rock-bottom, just as Ella has. I’ve been on the brink of a complete and total change in my life, where the future is full of uncertainties, and it’s what has me drawn to characters just like Ella. You want to see what her outcome will be, good or bad.

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Another thing I appreciate: forward motion. Even through the fear, Ella sets out to try her hand at finding her own niche within the realm of her family’s ice cream business. She has no clue what she’s doing, other than the few recipes she can remember from her youth, but she tries her hand at it, anyway. There’s no stagnation for any of Watson’s characters, even the secondary ones. Everything moved at a nice pace, blending beautifully with the other story line that’s intricately woven into Ella’s chance at starting over again. A story line full of skeletons in the closet.

Ella made me feel as though life really is too short. That it’s okay to go for your dreams, no matter the opinions of others. To listen to that inner voice that guides you, drowning out the negativity that often crops up when embarking on something unknown. Ella’s Ice Cream Summer is a motivational read for anyone who needs a pick-me up, or needs to be reminded that passions can exist for anyone, no matter their age or status in life.

And, as always, this wouldn’t be a Watson novel without a delicious dose of food! Ice cream is one of my favorite desserts, and I couldn’t get through reading this without a fix from Dairy Queen and Coldstone. I’d love to discover a place that has unique flavors, the kind that Ella offers- and there’s even an ice cream recipe mentioned in the book. Certainly something I can easily make with my boys, possibly the start of our own special ice cream tradition.

On a personal note: Sue’s books really do inspire me. I always feel empowered after I read them. I hope they do the same for you, too.

Originally reviewed for Chick Lit Central

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