I’m such a fan of Jessica Redland’s writing – I’ve had the real pleasure of spending time in her company a few times now, and experienced the warmth of her personality that also shines from the pages of her books. Jessica told me that, of all her lovely books, Bear With Me was probably her favourite – so I really couldn’t turn down the opportunity to read and review it for her blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. I purchased my reading e-copy some time ago, and it’s been sitting on my kindle for far too long…
Jemma has the job of her dreams as curator for the children’s section of a museum in London. She spends each day surrounded by the one thing she’s absolutely passionate about: teddy bears. When boyfriend, Scott, shows a genuine interest in her passion instead of laughing at her for “playing with teddies all day”, she knows he’s a keeper.
Returning home to the North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitsborough Bay to celebrate her birthday, Jemma thinks she’s heading for her happy-ever-after when Scott unexpectedly proposes. So, a few days later, why isn’t he retuning her calls or responding to her texts?
Julie has always been a wonderful single mother to Jemma and her little brother, Sean. As owner of specialist teddy bear shop, Bear With Me, and the creative genius behind the successful range of Ju-Sea Bears, she inspires Jemma with her ability to balance a demanding career with home life. So why is the shop now in disarray and why is Sean so upset?
Sam thought he had his future all worked out. With a promising neurology career, a home, and a devoted fiancée, life was looking good. But now he’s all alone in a strange city, far from everyone and everything he cares about, struggling to rebuild the tatters of his life. Did he do the right thing by running away? What does the future hold and is he strong enough to face it?
Sometimes love finds us when we least expect it. But sometimes love leaves us, just as unexpectedly. When you’ve loved and lost, can you bear to let love in again?
Bear With Me, as all will be revealed …
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every book I’ve read from Jessica Redland, but I really loved this one. You might just be expecting a lot of teddy bears – and I really liked the whole idea of Julie’s shop in Whitsborough Bay, the workshops, the bears specially made with details reflecting the details of people’s lives. And yes, there are plenty of bears – and bear-related running jokes and references – but this book had a depth that I really never expected.
There’s a warmth and overall lightness about the writing, but such immense sadness behind the story, really sensitively handled. I really liked the way the book was constructed – the separate lives of Julie and Sam slowly converging and overlapping, the tragedy in Sam’s past, Jemma’s many problems with her current relationship and the issues tearing her family apart. All the story lines are wonderfully handled – this was a book I found difficult to put down, I was so caught up in the issues – but I did particularly like the telling of mother Julie’s story, that had a particular authenticity to the detail, and frequently brought a tear to my eye.
There are many tears in this lovely book, but plenty of moments that bring a smile too, and well-judged moments of gentle humour. And I particularly liked its sense of place, Whitsborough Bay vividly described and lovingly portrayed as a place where hope and healing can be found. Every character is beautifully drawn, fully rounded however small their part in the story, their feelings and emotions always entirely real: and the writing is excellent, every crisis, every new revelation or twist in the plot, drawing you in and making you really feel for the characters. Yes, I think this book might be my favourite too…
About the author
Jessica had never considered writing as a career until a former manager kept telling her that her business reports read more like stories and she should write a book. She loved writing but had no plot ideas. Then something happened to her that prompted the premise for her debut novel, Searching for Steven. She put fingers to keyboard and soon realised she had a trilogy and a novella!
She lives on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast – the inspiration for the settings in her books – with her husband, daughter, cat, Sprocker Spaniel, and an ever-growing collection of collectible teddy bears. Although if the dog has her way, the collection will be reduced to a pile of stuffing and chewed limbs! Jessica tries to balance her time – usually unsuccessfully – between being an HR tutor and writing.