My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have a lot of time for what GR Gemin does. His first novel, Cowgirl, was one of those great serendipitous delights; a book which sang of the unexpected and was so resolutely lovely in that singing, that I was in raptures over it. Still am, really. Good books do that. Even after the knife-sharp detail of that first read fades, they leave echoes. Beats inside you that thrum, thrum, thrum with memory. Of story. Of good story.
I was incredibly honoured to received a proof copy of Gemin’s second novel from Nosy Crow: ‘Sweet Pizza’. The facts, first. It’s out on June 2nd and I’m doing one of those slightly ahead of time review things that I don’t often do. I’m doing this because of things like purchasing and budgets and lead ins and also, basically, because I really liked the book and I wanted to talk about it. Practicalities be damned; let’s get bookish.
Sweet Pizza is set in Bryn Mawr; a town in South Wales. Joe’s family owns the café in Bryn Mawr and things aren’t going terribly well. Joe’s mother is sick of running the café and it’s up to Joe and his entrepreneurial spirit to save the day.
Told in a series of short, concise chapters, this is a delicious story full of heart. I’m starting to suspect that might be Gemin’s things; stories of society and of the goodness within people. Sweet Pizza reminded me a lot of the work of Anne Booth and I suspect there’s something in that some canny librarian teacher types might want to explore further. Socially conscious fiction. Fiction that’s rooted in space and place and people. Lovely, confusing, scared, funny people.
I struggled a little with the chapter formatting of Sweet Pizza. I’m not a fan of very brief chapters because I’m a greedy reader at heart. Short chapters do have their place, they’re a godsend to nervous or slow readers, but I am greedy and I wanted more of Gemin’s story because it is good story, well told. He’s a storyteller and this is a lovely book. I cried at the end of it; and I realised I’d forgotten about the chapters. I’d forgotten about the other things I wanted to do, I’d forgotten really about the world, because all I wanted was here.