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The Witches of Cambridge

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For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Witches of Cambridge reveals an astonishing world where the heart's deepest secrets give way to the magic of life-changing love. "Be careful what you wish for. If you're a witch, you might just get it." Amandine Bisset has always had the power to feel the emotions of those around her. It's a secret s For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Witches of Cambridge reveals an astonishing world where the heart's deepest secrets give way to the magic of life-changing love. "Be careful what you wish for. If you're a witch, you might just get it." Amandine Bisset has always had the power to feel the emotions of those around her. It's a secret she can share only with her friends all professors, all witches when they gather for the Cambridge University Society of Literature and Witchcraft. Amandine treasures these meetings but lately senses the ties among her colleagues beginning to unravel. If only she had her student Noa's power to hear the innermost thoughts of others, she might know how to patch things up. Unfortunately, Noa regards her gift as a curse. So when a seductive artist claims he can cure her, Noa jumps at the chance, no matter the cost. Noa's not the only witch in over her head. Mathematics professor Kat has a serious case of unrequited love but refuses to cast spells to win anyone's heart. Her sister, Cosima, is not above using magic to get what she wants, sprinkling pastries in her bakery with equal parts sugar and enchantment. But when Cosima sets her sights on Kat's crush, she conjures up a dangerous love triangle. As romance and longing swirl through every picturesque side street, The Witches of Cambridge find their lives unexpectedly upended and changed in ways sometimes extraordinary, sometimes heartbreaking, but always enchanting.


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For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Witches of Cambridge reveals an astonishing world where the heart's deepest secrets give way to the magic of life-changing love. "Be careful what you wish for. If you're a witch, you might just get it." Amandine Bisset has always had the power to feel the emotions of those around her. It's a secret s For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Witches of Cambridge reveals an astonishing world where the heart's deepest secrets give way to the magic of life-changing love. "Be careful what you wish for. If you're a witch, you might just get it." Amandine Bisset has always had the power to feel the emotions of those around her. It's a secret she can share only with her friends all professors, all witches when they gather for the Cambridge University Society of Literature and Witchcraft. Amandine treasures these meetings but lately senses the ties among her colleagues beginning to unravel. If only she had her student Noa's power to hear the innermost thoughts of others, she might know how to patch things up. Unfortunately, Noa regards her gift as a curse. So when a seductive artist claims he can cure her, Noa jumps at the chance, no matter the cost. Noa's not the only witch in over her head. Mathematics professor Kat has a serious case of unrequited love but refuses to cast spells to win anyone's heart. Her sister, Cosima, is not above using magic to get what she wants, sprinkling pastries in her bakery with equal parts sugar and enchantment. But when Cosima sets her sights on Kat's crush, she conjures up a dangerous love triangle. As romance and longing swirl through every picturesque side street, The Witches of Cambridge find their lives unexpectedly upended and changed in ways sometimes extraordinary, sometimes heartbreaking, but always enchanting.

30 review for The Witches of Cambridge

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeannie

    This was a fun read. I really enjoyed it. This book is filled with magic, romance and a few recipes at the end. I liked all the witches and their different stories. I wish I could participate in the witches book club, very entertaining. I would recommend this book to fans of Sarah Addison Allen, it reminded me of her books. The only thing missing was the recipe for those pistachio cream croissants! Thank you good reads for a free copy of this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ova - Excuse My Reading

    A sweet book, full of witty characters, Cambridge, and romance. I don't read a lot of romance but my love of Cambridge pulled me in with this one.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Obsidian

    I only gave this book half a star, however, Goodreads does not allow for half stars so I rounded this up to one star. This is my third book by Menna Van Praag and I can honestly say that I 100 percent doubt that I will read any of her books in the future. As much as I loved The Dress Shop of Dreams, I disliked The Witches of Cambridge. I kept wondering if I had made a mistake and she really didn't write this book, but nope, same author wrote both books. If you want to read a book with an ever shi I only gave this book half a star, however, Goodreads does not allow for half stars so I rounded this up to one star. This is my third book by Menna Van Praag and I can honestly say that I 100 percent doubt that I will read any of her books in the future. As much as I loved The Dress Shop of Dreams, I disliked The Witches of Cambridge. I kept wondering if I had made a mistake and she really didn't write this book, but nope, same author wrote both books. If you want to read a book with an ever shifting cast of characters, with no real follow through with a lot of the story-lines until the very end, and no real depth provided for the story to grab you, then I think this book will be right up your alley. I think the first issue with the book was with how it was set up. Initially, the book begins with Amandine who is a professor who is also a witch. The way that Van Praag sets up how Amadine meets her husband and now her magic comes into play at particular times made me excited. And everything after those initial pages did not come close to being as great as the first few pages were. We quickly segue into Amandine expressing her fears that something is wrong with her husband and now she is terrified that he is having an affair. From there readers are introduced to the character of Noa (20 something year old student connected to Amandine) and Heloise (Amandine's widowed mother). And for about 20 percent or so the book it is just these three characters. Fine. But then we have the insertion of Kat and Cosima (sisters) and Kat's best friend George. So after that point the book zig zags trying to tell stories that are not really linked about these 6 people. Are you looking for explanation of how this group was connected and how members are admitted? Are you looking for explanations on how witches can fly and why in the world would they meet floating up above buildings to discuss books? Are you looking for whether there are other groups out there and whether they all meet up? If you are, go elsewhere. There are just random insertions about magic here and there and it does not feel like an organic part of the story at all. I know this is a magic realism book, but it didn't read or feel like one to me at all. Comparing this to Sarah Addison Allen or Alice Hoffman I thought for me personally was a reach. And none of the characters except for Noa resonated with me at all. The rest of the characters were underdeveloped or it felt like there story-lines were not progressing at all. And I am just going to say it, it takes a lot to have me feel personally offended while reading a book, but holy crap this one did it. We in this book have two cases of people using magic to further their own ends and take away two other peoples free will. In at least both cases I would say that what happens to two of the characters was not only mental but physical rape. However, the book only condemns one of the characters. The other one is kind of given a stern talking to and then nothing. That person is forgiven. Because I guess wanting to have a baby is an instant way to be forgiven for being a terrible person. The secondary characters (Amandine's husband, Heloise's former husband, Cosima's husband, Noa's love interest) are not developed at all. Frankly in the case of Cosima, I have no idea why this character was even included. The writing was okay, but nothing really grabbed me. This was not a book that gripped me or had me rushing to finish it in order to read it all over again. The flow was really bad. I chalk that up to trying to juggle 6 different characters and the secondary characters in this story. The only story that I wanted to read and get back to was Noa's. I didn't care about Amandine after her umpteenth woe is me and refusal to figure out what was going on with her husband. Heloise I had sympathy for, but she became one note as well until more than halfway through the book. I detested the character of Cosima and felt indifferent towards Kat and George. So this is my long way of saying this book was pretty painful with the constant jumping around. And though this book takes place in Cambridge, there is no real description or discussions to make you think this is taking place there. The ending was a hot mess. I cheered a death of a character and didn't really care about what became of anyone at that point.The book includes some description of herbs and flowers and what properties they are supposed to have and then there are some recipes in the back. None of the recipes looked that interesting. And it was weird to include the recipes though I guess the tie back was from the fact that the character of Cosima runs a bakery and is constantly adding things to the food in order to get the desired effect. Considering how we see how Cosima uses her gift to get what she wants I would say including the recipes was in bad taste.

  4. 5 out of 5

    The Lit Bitch

    I have been a fan of Menna van Praag’s writing for some time now! I’ve read all of her books and they always get me in the mood for spring reading. Van Praag’s novels are always full of whimsical magic, romance, and interesting women characters. In her other novels, van Praag’s use of magic is always kind of subtle which to me is kind of her ‘trademark’….so I was interested to see if she incorporated magic more boldly in a novel so clearly about witches. While the magical realism elements were mor I have been a fan of Menna van Praag’s writing for some time now! I’ve read all of her books and they always get me in the mood for spring reading. Van Praag’s novels are always full of whimsical magic, romance, and interesting women characters. In her other novels, van Praag’s use of magic is always kind of subtle which to me is kind of her ‘trademark’….so I was interested to see if she incorporated magic more boldly in a novel so clearly about witches. While the magical realism elements were more obvious in this book than some of her others, it was still subtle and I would say still falls under the category of magical realism rather than ‘fantasy’ or ‘paranormal lit’ etc. What I loved about this was the witches angel wasn’t overly done, the witch magic itself wasn’t all crazy…it was mostly a story about women who just happened to be witches, which really kept with her subtle magic trademark in my opinion. I could relate to many of the characters even though they were witches, their stories and struggles were real and relate-able for audiences. Each woman had a ‘real world’ type problem that even their magic couldn’t solve which I think is why I loved each of the women characters for different reasons. This book was well written and I personally think, one of her best novels yet! I loved The Dress Shop of Dream and The House at the End of Hope Street but this novel struck me in a way that the others didn’t and I think it’s because the characters were all so engaging and interesting. I fell in love with their stories, they made me want to keep reading! See my full review here

  5. 4 out of 5

    Pattie

    If u like quirky then you will love this book!! Xx

  6. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    The Witches of Cambridge was a delightful read! 4.5 stars rounded up I wasn't sure what to expect with "witches" in the title and knowing Menna van Praag used magic in her other books. I really like the use of subtle magic in books for everyday life, if written well. If not, it doesn't feel right, too forced or something. Witches in books can be good or not so good depending on the writing etc. It was absolutely written well in Witches of Cambridge! I was hooked and in love within the first few The Witches of Cambridge was a delightful read! 4.5 stars rounded up I wasn't sure what to expect with "witches" in the title and knowing Menna van Praag used magic in her other books. I really like the use of subtle magic in books for everyday life, if written well. If not, it doesn't feel right, too forced or something. Witches in books can be good or not so good depending on the writing etc. It was absolutely written well in Witches of Cambridge! I was hooked and in love within the first few pages. There are 5 main witches and 1 person with special powers that meet through chance, (and a couple of them are related) mostly through the academic world of Cambridge. They exhibit powerful friendships and truly care about helping each other. They all have their own love-relationship issues and struggle through the book to resolve them. I loved learning about each one of them and their special abilities. These are likable characters that you can relate to (even though they are witches)! This is a book akin to Sarah Addison Allen's, in that it frequently brought a smile to my face and had lovely descriptions of tasty and often magical, food. Also like SAA, magic is weaved expertly and flawlessly into the story. It's light and humorous but has just enough of the serious side. These are no dark, spooky witches, so don't let the title throw you off. [NOTE: There is a little bit of what I would term "irreverence" and a little profanity sprinkled in. Nothing very offensive to me, though] Recommended to magical realism readers, previous fans of Menna van Praag and fans of SAA and like authors! **Many thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for an advance reading copy!**

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cyndi

    An interesting story about a group of friends that meet at a monthly book club where they practice magic. Each of them have different powers. One has the ability to see the future, one sees the secrets everyone keeps, but its the one that registers the feelings of everyone around her that can’t figure out what happened to her husband’s love. This story is about love in so many different forms. Friends, children, spouses and lovers.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karen Mace

    Normally I fall in love with a book at the mere mention of Witches and Magic...... this one unfortunately hasn't cast a spell on me! It's an interesting set up with a group of witches who all have different abilities, and the story follows their various trials and tribulations as they face all that life can throw at them - from trust issues, desire to have children, love and loss - and the decisions they make as to whether to use magic to help themselves along the way. For some reason, I just felt Normally I fall in love with a book at the mere mention of Witches and Magic...... this one unfortunately hasn't cast a spell on me! It's an interesting set up with a group of witches who all have different abilities, and the story follows their various trials and tribulations as they face all that life can throw at them - from trust issues, desire to have children, love and loss - and the decisions they make as to whether to use magic to help themselves along the way. For some reason, I just felt that the characters were all a little flat and I just didn't feel any empathy for any of them so cared very little about the different issues that life was throwing at them! It didn't seem to be written with much humour and felt quite flat throughout so it was an easy and quick book to read, but just didn't leave any lasting impression. other than disappointment!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

    When I started reading this book it reminded me of another story, in writing style, not content. So I paused and researched the author which I normally do after I finish the book, and yup I had read another book from MVP and loved it. The premise of something otherworldly or mystical is also in this book, but it is found in the form of witches. We have good magic and less kind magic on display in this story. I enjoyed how the different witches found each other and how they all had a different ty When I started reading this book it reminded me of another story, in writing style, not content. So I paused and researched the author which I normally do after I finish the book, and yup I had read another book from MVP and loved it. The premise of something otherworldly or mystical is also in this book, but it is found in the form of witches. We have good magic and less kind magic on display in this story. I enjoyed how the different witches found each other and how they all had a different type of ability. The relationships and emotions that each experiences were so rich and ripe with detail. I honestly do not have a favorite character...I think I am torn between Noa and Amandine..but maybe it is Kat..ahh I don't know they were all so good. And can I say I did not see George's secret coming...nope not at all. This story is beautifully written and masterfully executed. I sat down to read a few chapters and read the entire book in one setting. MVP is a fantastic author who has a gift of creating adventures, characters and worlds that I disappear in when I am reading. I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gemma

    I was was excited when this book was chosen for KUYH's April read as I love books about witches and Cambridge is one of my favourite cities to visit but that excitement was soon extinguished. I actually didn't dislike the book. I thought the characters were great and their powers were intriguing. For me there was too much going on. There were so many subplots the whole book felt too wishy washy. I would lose track of what was happening to each character and I wanted to read more about each one. I was was excited when this book was chosen for KUYH's April read as I love books about witches and Cambridge is one of my favourite cities to visit but that excitement was soon extinguished. I actually didn't dislike the book. I thought the characters were great and their powers were intriguing. For me there was too much going on. There were so many subplots the whole book felt too wishy washy. I would lose track of what was happening to each character and I wanted to read more about each one. I really wanted to read more about Noa and Santiago even though it was the darkest plot in the book. Noa was the character who stood out for me in the first few pages of the book. I thought her power was the most intriguing. I can't imagine not being able to stop myself from speaking truths! Overall this book was far too fluffy for my taste. But I would recommend it to girlfriends for a beach read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    The Witches of Cambridge is a light weight book about women with special powers. There were too many characters and too many story lines. I found Heloise's story to be interesting and realistic. Amandine's story of her husband's secret appeared to be resolved too quickly. All the other stories and characters, especially the one about Noa and Santiago were underdeveloped, swiftly resolved and appeared to me to be fillers. Overall this book was a fast read but not memorable.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    The Witches of Cambridge spins a magical tale about a group of witches that includes "empath" Amandine, her "psychic" mother, Heloise, "Tourette syndrome" Noa who never has an honest observation about someone without saying it out loud, "master spellcaster" Kat, and only slightly magical George. As we all know, magical spells cast in the name of love always go awry, and this story is no different. Will they be able to right their wrongs? Or, will their meddling ruin the lives of those they love? The Witches of Cambridge spins a magical tale about a group of witches that includes "empath" Amandine, her "psychic" mother, Heloise, "Tourette syndrome" Noa who never has an honest observation about someone without saying it out loud, "master spellcaster" Kat, and only slightly magical George. As we all know, magical spells cast in the name of love always go awry, and this story is no different. Will they be able to right their wrongs? Or, will their meddling ruin the lives of those they love? If you love books about witches and the spells they cast, then you will enjoy this light, quick read. I thought it was perfect for Halloween, especially if you're looking for something fun and magical in lieu of creepy and spooky! Location: London, England

  13. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    “Gazing at the jumble of colours and words, she runs her finger along some of the spines and feels herself starting to breathe more easily. What is it, Héloïse wonders, about the comfort of books? Just by touching the printed words she already feels sparks of excited curiosity begin to wake up her brain.” I usually prefer to start writing the review as soon as I finish the book. I give myself some time, of course, time that is mostly spent staring at the back cover in awe. How did this happen? “Gazing at the jumble of colours and words, she runs her finger along some of the spines and feels herself starting to breathe more easily. What is it, Héloïse wonders, about the comfort of books? Just by touching the printed words she already feels sparks of excited curiosity begin to wake up her brain.” I usually prefer to start writing the review as soon as I finish the book. I give myself some time, of course, time that is mostly spent staring at the back cover in awe. How did this happen? Was it supposed to end so quickly? I don’t usually post it right away though. I enjoy the idea of sleeping on a draft, you know? And then see where distance takes me. I finished The Witches of Cambridge yesterday evening and my draft, which I ended up sharing on twitter, read the following, I don’t know what to say. My feelings are so mixed I don’t recognize the original ingredients. After spending quite a few hours in the land of dreams I must confess that I am still as confused as I was yesterday. I expected to love this book. From the title, to the cover, to the premise… it had a glowing you must buy me stamp on it. There’s Cambridge, art, witches, books, food, spells… there’s a little heartbreak, a lot of love, an incredible abundance of hope and longing… there’s everything. The ingredients are all there, but there’s something… peculiar about the way they were mixed together. I feel that perhaps they weren’t given enough time. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book, but… I think it deserved more. Menna van Praag has a gift, there’s no denying it. Her characters are incredibly humane, even with their magic. There’s humour in her writing, there’s beauty (Héloïse’s storyline was exquisite), and there was a very particular darkness in The Witches of Cambridge that I must confess surprised me – it was so palpably vicious it scared me a little bit. She ties the loose ends with grace; she finds a balance with hope. I just think it could have been given a little more time. Then again, it all comes down to expectations. If I hadn’t read The House at the End of Hope Street before, this experience would have been completely different. All in all, The Witches of Cambridge is a lovely read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    Read my full review here: http://ivoryowlreviews.blogspot.com/2... As soon as I read this description I wondered if a book more perfectly suited to me could be written. I love magic realism, witches, and food. Spells + baking = a happy, relaxing read for me. The Witches of Cambridge combined all three loves deliciously. Read my full review here: http://ivoryowlreviews.blogspot.com/2... As soon as I read this description I wondered if a book more perfectly suited to me could be written. I love magic realism, witches, and food. Spells + baking = a happy, relaxing read for me. The Witches of Cambridge combined all three loves deliciously.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn F.

    I ordered this book from the library before I read the reviews and then when I started reading it I noticed all of the people saying they were disappointed with the book. Well I thought it was a sweet book. I thought the romances although convoluted were fine, slow but fine. Which is actually how I would describe this book slow but fine. 3-1/2 out of 5 stars.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Angela Holtz

    From Lilac Wolf and Stuff I was so excited to read this book. I kept putting it off, because then I'd be out of Menna's books again. She hooked me with The Dress Shop of Dreams. It was really so good. There really are witches, so the magic isn't quite as subtle in this one. All the witches know they are witches. They are the Witches of Cambridge because they meet once a month and are either professors or students of one of the colleges. I loved how quickly they came together to support one another From Lilac Wolf and Stuff I was so excited to read this book. I kept putting it off, because then I'd be out of Menna's books again. She hooked me with The Dress Shop of Dreams. It was really so good. There really are witches, so the magic isn't quite as subtle in this one. All the witches know they are witches. They are the Witches of Cambridge because they meet once a month and are either professors or students of one of the colleges. I loved how quickly they came together to support one another. They really weren't all that close at the beginning. Like they knew each other and were friends, but not BFFs, you know? Then Noa walks into Amandine's office and both their lives change. Amandine has super empathy, but all she can see are feelings. She can feel her husband pulling away from her, from their little family but she can't see why. When Noa walks in with the ability to see secrets and no ability to keep it to herself, Amandine sees a solution for her dilemma. She relunctantly invites Noa to the group and while no one likes the secrets revealed, everyone is pretty kind to her, which is a new experience. But still, Noa can't stand her ability and would give anything to get rid of it. Enter handsome, artistic stranger. He cures her of her curse and changes the direction of Noa's life, but is it the blessing she initially thinks it is? Then there's a love triangle between Kat who loves George and her sister, Cosima, who just wants a baby and accidentally casts a love spell on George. There is danger with these girls giving birth, rare blood disorder that killed their mom. And finally there's Amandine's mother, who has been grieving her dead husband for 2 years now. And she also blames herself for his death. So sad, but thanks to her daughter's push, she is trying to join the land of the living. She even finds someone she is interested in, thanks to the owner of the book stall she likes to frequent. This book was full of people and story lines, and sometimes it was too much splitting up. But I liked it. The only problem I had was the quick ending that really went to fast without enough description. And it was all "do this but we don't know why, we just know it will work!" nonsense. I truly loved the book until then, but I don't regret reading it. I would just have liked her to slow down and keep the steady flow she'd had until then.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    4.5 *s. I read my first book, "The Dress Shop of Dreams", by Menna van Praag last year and absolutely loved it. The "Witches of Cambridge" did not disappoint. Both books have magic, romance, great characters, and superb storytelling. In this book, there are 6 witches, each with his/her own type of magic. There are 5 separate story lines all intertwined into a lovely tale of friendship, family, love lost and love gained. I am looking forward to going back and reading van Praag's "The House at the 4.5 *s. I read my first book, "The Dress Shop of Dreams", by Menna van Praag last year and absolutely loved it. The "Witches of Cambridge" did not disappoint. Both books have magic, romance, great characters, and superb storytelling. In this book, there are 6 witches, each with his/her own type of magic. There are 5 separate story lines all intertwined into a lovely tale of friendship, family, love lost and love gained. I am looking forward to going back and reading van Praag's "The House at the End of Hope Street" next.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anne Monteith

    I read this novel in a little under four hours; it was a very quick because the characters were so superficial that I could just read without absorbing anything because I really didn’t care what happened to them. Days later, I am having a hard time writing a review that doesn’t contain major spoilers and it’s taking me longer to write it than it took me to read the novel. I have lost a spouse and a child so I understand the deep, profound long term grief that Heloise experienced and I know how ea I read this novel in a little under four hours; it was a very quick because the characters were so superficial that I could just read without absorbing anything because I really didn’t care what happened to them. Days later, I am having a hard time writing a review that doesn’t contain major spoilers and it’s taking me longer to write it than it took me to read the novel. I have lost a spouse and a child so I understand the deep, profound long term grief that Heloise experienced and I know how easy it is to want to give up and join those that you have lost. What I couldn’t understand is why she blamed herself or let her husband blame her in their conversations after his death? Was her gift so all-powerful that she always knew everything that happened before it did? If that was the case then the author failed to convey that fact. Then when she decided that she was going rejoin the world it seemed too quick and easy, even though the author threw in a couple of set-backs, but it seemed too little too smooth for me. Then there was George’s big secret, wouldn’t that have come to light the first time Noa met them and she blurted things out about everyone. Then the others just let her leave without even taking the time to see if there is something that they can do to help her. Could they not have attempted a spell that kept her from divulging what she knows unless she wants to or she is asked? The biggest problem was the character of Santiago who was so totally evil but so underdeveloped that it was just a major let down. We are told that he has painted thousands of nudes but did he do the same things to them that he did to Noa? How old was he and how long has he been doing this to others and what happened to the others; did they just slowly die as he used them for whatever purpose he was using them. Were any of the others witches and was he able to steal and use their gifts? I hated everything she did to Cosima other that her gift for cooking and even with this the author managed to disappoint me because of what happened as a result of some of her recipes. I hated the way she wrote the Tommy and Cosima storyline and as if that wasn’t bad enough that he had a one-night affair she had to make it even worse, not once but twice. The flow of the writing was terrible, it would switch between characters so fast and I believe that the author thought that it would keep the readers engaged but it just made it choppy for me. 2/5 STARS: **I want to thank the author and/or publisher for providing me with a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review; all opinions are mine.**

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was really excited when I got it because I had been wanting to read this. And it did not disappoint! I read The Dress Shop of Dreams by the same author, and I enjoyed the book, so I had high hopes for this book. I just read over my review of that book and I realize that I have many of the same opinions about both books. I guess the author's writing and my opinions are consistent. At first, I didn't think I was enjoying the book. I didn't see any I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was really excited when I got it because I had been wanting to read this. And it did not disappoint! I read The Dress Shop of Dreams by the same author, and I enjoyed the book, so I had high hopes for this book. I just read over my review of that book and I realize that I have many of the same opinions about both books. I guess the author's writing and my opinions are consistent. At first, I didn't think I was enjoying the book. I didn't see anything to like in the characters. I actually felt there were far too many main characters in the book. I think there were 6 main characters, who are all tied together by witchcraft (magic). But by the time I reached the end of the book, I felt like the characters all needed to be a part of the story. It all made sense in the end. I enjoy magical realism and books about witchcraft, and that's exactly what this book is. I liked that most of the witchcraft wasn't too crazy. And everyone had their own quirks when it came to their magical gifts. I think Noa's gift is actually kind of funny an I wish we had seen more of it. I can't really explain why, but this book makes me wants to get a mug of hot chocolate and sit infront of a fire, and read all day and night. The story wasn't always pleasant, but it was interesting. The descriptions of the food were so well written, I wanted to eat some of them and I could imagine what they smelled like. I wish it were really possible to bake spells into food to help people! (Okay, and to help myself too.)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kahea

    I enjoyed The Dress Shop of Dreams. It was sweet, whimsical and just different enough from what I typically read that it was a change of pace that was quite pleasant. So, I didn’t need to think too hard about reading The Witches of Cambridge and it was just as sweet, whimsical and well written, but it didn’t have the same lure to fully capture my interest. It’s difficult to pinpoint why I couldn’t get lost in the story and had no issue with setting it aside for moments at a time because it really I enjoyed The Dress Shop of Dreams. It was sweet, whimsical and just different enough from what I typically read that it was a change of pace that was quite pleasant. So, I didn’t need to think too hard about reading The Witches of Cambridge and it was just as sweet, whimsical and well written, but it didn’t have the same lure to fully capture my interest. It’s difficult to pinpoint why I couldn’t get lost in the story and had no issue with setting it aside for moments at a time because it really was well written. Each of the characters and their stories are well done and I liked how while they each had their own road to tread they also intersected with each other throughout the book. Of all the characters and their storylines, my favorite was Heloise’s because of how she finally overcame the obstacles in her way and found her happiness once more. The one aspect that I thought was better in this book versus The Dress Shop of Dreams was how the gifts of each of the witches were woven into the story. In The Dress Shop the magic is remarked upon once, maybe twice and that’s it, but in this one we get to see their gifts much more and is something that helps to move the various storylines along. The Bottom Line: Though The Witches of Cambridge didn’t fully capture my interest, it was still a well written story that is worth a try if you’re looking for something a little sweet and whimsical. ~ ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ~

  21. 4 out of 5

    CL

    As far a witches go this was a pretty great read. Not alot of hocus pocus but a relatabe story about relatabe people with relatabe problems. Take Noa who cannot blurt out the truth about other people's lives, Cosi who bakes her magic into her food to get the one thing she wants more than any other, her sister Kat, who just wants her best friend George to love her. Amandine can sense other people's emotions and she know her husband is hiding something from her and she is afraid to confront him ab As far a witches go this was a pretty great read. Not alot of hocus pocus but a relatabe story about relatabe people with relatabe problems. Take Noa who cannot blurt out the truth about other people's lives, Cosi who bakes her magic into her food to get the one thing she wants more than any other, her sister Kat, who just wants her best friend George to love her. Amandine can sense other people's emotions and she know her husband is hiding something from her and she is afraid to confront him about the affair she thinks he is having because then her wonderful will never be the same. Her mother has just lost her gift with the death of her father but she will not let him go and has been house bound for two years not dealing with her grief. All in all great read. I would like to thank the Publisher and Net Galley for the chance to read this ARC.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aida

    Gosh, so mixed feelings. Overall, this could have been quite an interesting book. Somewhere hidden in all the muck and mire was a plot/specific story line. What I found was more of muddying of the characters and several different subplots that were meshed together to come up with this one book. It has good bones, just needs to be filtered and organized so the reader can better understand the true personality of at least one or two of the characters and their story. The title is a bit deceiving a Gosh, so mixed feelings. Overall, this could have been quite an interesting book. Somewhere hidden in all the muck and mire was a plot/specific story line. What I found was more of muddying of the characters and several different subplots that were meshed together to come up with this one book. It has good bones, just needs to be filtered and organized so the reader can better understand the true personality of at least one or two of the characters and their story. The title is a bit deceiving as the aspect of mysticism or the practice there-of, with the exception of one specific scene, is implied and not fully developed. Nonetheless, it was a fast an easy read that you'll be able to get through the book in no time. Not very memorable though.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Beth Bonini

    This is a lightweight romance with a dash of magic, a soupcon of menace, and some nice, cosy bits about books and food. The cast of characters are all witches (with varying gifts) and academics at Cambridge. They like to conduct their book club hovering above the delicate spires - and their romantic lives eating pistachio cream croissants at Cosima's Italian cafe. There isn't enough character development, and the resolutions are all too rushed, but it's not entirely without charm. I might try so This is a lightweight romance with a dash of magic, a soupcon of menace, and some nice, cosy bits about books and food. The cast of characters are all witches (with varying gifts) and academics at Cambridge. They like to conduct their book club hovering above the delicate spires - and their romantic lives eating pistachio cream croissants at Cosima's Italian cafe. There isn't enough character development, and the resolutions are all too rushed, but it's not entirely without charm. I might try some of the recipes at the back of the book . . . shades of Like Water for Chocolate.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Talk Supe

    the comparison to SAAllen is on point. This novel is women's lit first, magic realism next. It talks about mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, and friends. of dreams, nightmares, heartache, books, and food. Of love and life. Each women has her own story to tell and its accessible and relatable. Lovely novel, will read more from this author for sure.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    A funny and sweet story of a few witches who each live complicated lives despite their magic gifts. I absolutely loved this book. It was so interesting and light hearted. I got easily wrapped up in each witches story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    As an empath myself, I was drawn to this book when I read that it was about a woman who could feel others' emotions. Amandine Bisset does not share this secret with everyone of course. She attends the meetings of the Cambridge University Society of Literature and Witchcraft, and I admit, that would be a meeting I'd love to attend also! There, everyone knows her secret, as she is surrounded by collegues (professors) who are all witches. It is at these meetings that Amandine realizes the emotions s As an empath myself, I was drawn to this book when I read that it was about a woman who could feel others' emotions. Amandine Bisset does not share this secret with everyone of course. She attends the meetings of the Cambridge University Society of Literature and Witchcraft, and I admit, that would be a meeting I'd love to attend also! There, everyone knows her secret, as she is surrounded by collegues (professors) who are all witches. It is at these meetings that Amandine realizes the emotions she is sensing are changing, and not for the better. There is a discontent amongst the professors. Amandine's friends have different powers, and powers Amandine wishes she had so she could better understand what is really going on. Her friend Noa can hear people's thoughts and that would come in mighty handy, but Noa refuses to use her powers, considering them more of a curse than a blessing. Another friend uses her powers to entice a friend's lover. Using her powers in this way is frowned upon. A third friend runs a bakery and puts a little "extra" into her treats to help people. Menna van Praag does a great job of fleshing out the characters, and you will want - and hope - for a happy ending because you grow to care about all of them.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Stoeckel

    [ I received this book free from the publisherthrough NetGalley. I thank them for their generousity. In exchange, I was simply asked to write an honest review, and post it. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising] “I know,” Cosima says , softly. “But life isn’t like a perfectly balanced equation, Kat. It’s messy and muddled and you ju [ I received this book free from the publisherthrough NetGalley. I thank them for their generousity. In exchange, I was simply asked to write an honest review, and post it. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising] “I know,” Cosima says , softly. “But life isn’t like a perfectly balanced equation, Kat. It’s messy and muddled and you just have to go with it." This is a story about a group of witches and living in the community of Cambridge England,where they share not only the magic of challenging perception, but about how life might interfer with it. Mix that with the caveat about being careful what you wish for, and that's the whole wonderfully messy life: full of bruised knees, loss, being found, being truthful and attempting to live each day, even if it's not exactly what might have been foretold. There are Heloise and Amandine, Kat, her sister Cosima and George, Hamish, Theo and Noa. All of them evolve into people I would love to meet for coffee. They became my "friends" . And, to balance off there are warnings and cracks in their mis/ understandings of their place in the world. And they learn and adjust and fall back on friendships to buoy each other up. When I was a professional chef earlier in my life I learned two things that have served me well. One which is felt throught this story is that a recipe is just a suggestion. The other, as reflected in George is that baking requires sticking to the recipe, but, as Cosima's personal recipes prove, once you have a handle on the logic, then you can let the spice of life in. This, much like Dress Shoppe of Dreams, is a book to enjoy again and again. Intellegent fantasy is van Praag's forte. I look forward to its next incarnation.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jani Brooks

    THE WITCHES OF CAMBRIDGE – Menna van Praag Cambridge, England – Present Day There are six witches in Cambridge and each has his or her own unique magic. Several of them meet in a turret at one of the colleges to discuss books. But changes are coming, and each has to face reality sooner or later. Amandine wishes that her magical power could explain why her husband has suddenly become distant to her and their twin sons. She suspects he’s having an affair, although Amandine struggles to actually belie THE WITCHES OF CAMBRIDGE – Menna van Praag Cambridge, England – Present Day There are six witches in Cambridge and each has his or her own unique magic. Several of them meet in a turret at one of the colleges to discuss books. But changes are coming, and each has to face reality sooner or later. Amandine wishes that her magical power could explain why her husband has suddenly become distant to her and their twin sons. She suspects he’s having an affair, although Amandine struggles to actually believe that. Her hopes rely on her student, Noa, whose ability to hear others’ secrets could explain the situation. Heloise is Amandine’s mother, and two years after her husband died, she still communicates with him, unable to go forward in her life. When she meets the father of her bookseller, Heloise finds herself emotionally confused. Is she being unfaithful to Francois, her late husband? Kat and George have been good friends for years. In fact, Kat loves George even though he has just maintained their relationship as a friendship. Kat’s sister Cosima, who is a masterful baker and owns a bakery, is desperate to find love – desperate enough to use magic. So when it is George who is the one affected by the magical pastries, Kat is torn apart by her sister’s machinations. George has his own secrets, and his magic is less obvious, but his sudden infatuation with the lovely Cosima sends him spinning. And then there is Noa, who has no relationships because of her abilities to hear secrets. So when she meets a shadowey artist who promises to help her, Noa must handle the outcome of that assistance. THE WITCHES OF CAMBRIDGE is a page turner. Each character is so fascinating and well written that readers will quickly get wrapped up in their lives. The magic is subtle, and each separate story is unique. This was a fun book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    The book focuses on a group of witches Cosima, Kat, Amandine, Heloise, Noa, and George. Cosima owns a cafe where she makes wonderful baked goods. She desperately wants to have a baby and multiple things threaten her dream. Kat is Cosima's sister and she is a mathematics professor and has been in love with George for YEARS without ever telling him. Amandine is an art history professor and the mother of young twin boys. Lately she feels her husband pulling away from her and has serious suspicions The book focuses on a group of witches Cosima, Kat, Amandine, Heloise, Noa, and George. Cosima owns a cafe where she makes wonderful baked goods. She desperately wants to have a baby and multiple things threaten her dream. Kat is Cosima's sister and she is a mathematics professor and has been in love with George for YEARS without ever telling him. Amandine is an art history professor and the mother of young twin boys. Lately she feels her husband pulling away from her and has serious suspicions that he is cheating on her. Heloise is Amandine's mother and is still struggling with the death of her husband and the possibility of moving on. Noa is a art student of Amandine and she is struggling to cope with her power that feels like a curse to her. When a new man comes into her life things really get shaken up. George has no idea Kat loves him and when he accidentally gets put under a love spell by Cosima things really get interesting for the newly formed love triangle. A big thing about this book should probably already be pretty evident if you have read my review so far. There is A LOT going on. It jumps around a lot keeping you filled in on the different events in the witches lives. Some of the book was a bit boring to me but other parts really kept my interest. At the end of the book there were some surprising revelations, especially about George. That was very unexpected. I did like everyone's ending except one persons. If you read the book then I am sure you know who I am talking about. That was just very sad. I really liked all the goings on with Cosima's baked goods and some of Cosima's recipes at the back of the book is a very fun touch. Disclaimer: I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads. The opinions I expressed are entirely my own.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andree

    1.5 stars, but for some unknown reason I was feeling generous. I've liked all of MvP's other books, but this one did not work for me. Look, MvP can write. There is something flitting through the sentences. The characters are very human. The emotions are there. But I didn't like this. It took me longer than it should have to figure out why. When I finally did, it was blindingly obvious: 1. There are serious consent issues that were never addressed (in one case they were, but not in another, because 1.5 stars, but for some unknown reason I was feeling generous. I've liked all of MvP's other books, but this one did not work for me. Look, MvP can write. There is something flitting through the sentences. The characters are very human. The emotions are there. But I didn't like this. It took me longer than it should have to figure out why. When I finally did, it was blindingly obvious: 1. There are serious consent issues that were never addressed (in one case they were, but not in another, because apparently everyone was fine with the outcome so that makes the means okay?) 2. Everything was a little too neat in the end. 3. There is a serious undercurrent of viciousness running through this. Seriously, everyone is either sort of hateful, or ridiculously saccharine. 4. Noa's "magic" of being forced to blurt out the secrets of everyone she meets is actually the worst. Because honestly, I get that in this it's something she can't control, but I don't understand the point of it, because in the real world behaving that way is not okay. 5. Most importantly, this is a soap opera, and I have little patience for soap operas. It's all drama, and drama that is arranged in a way to be as bad as possible and have the biggest possible effect. The novel just felt emotionally manipulative in the extreme. At this rate, I'll talk myself down to one star.

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