Wednesday 10 July 2019

Guest Review: The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan

Escape to the Scottish Highlands where a tiny bookshop perches on the edge of a loch
Zoe is a single mother, sinking beneath the waves trying to cope by herself in London. Hari, her gorgeous little boy is perfect in every way - except for the fact that he just doesn't speak, at all. When her landlord raises the rent on her flat, Zoe doesn't know where to turn.
Then Hari's aunt suggests Zoe could move to Scotland to help run a bookshop. Going from the lonely city to a small village in the Highlands could be the change Zoe and Hari desperately need.
Faced with an unwelcoming boss, a moody, distant bookseller named Ramsay Urquart, and a band of unruly children, Zoe wonders if she's made the right decision. But Hari has found his very first real friend, and no one could resist the beauty of the loch glinting in the summer sun. If only Ramsay would just be a little more approachable...
Dreams start here...

Review: How lovely to find a new book from Jenny Colgan. I have enjoyed so many of her books in the past, with their amazing characters, and loads of humour mixed in with real life drama and romance. Although Jenny says in her introduction that this book is not a sequel to The Little Shop of Happy Ever After (or The Bookshop on the Corner for US readers), it sounded to me as if there might be echoes of that story in this one. I sat down to read and was reluctant to pause until I got to the end.

This story concerns single mum Zoe and her son Hari. Although four years old, Hari has not begun to talk, which is causing Zoe not inconsiderable concern. She has other concerns too, living in a small, noisy and altogether unpleasant flat in London where the rent is about to be raised beyond her reach. A possible solution comes out of the blue, when a friend tells her of not one but two jobs in a remote Scottish village on the shores of Loch Ness, living in as nanny to three children and helping out on a mobile bookshop. With that all sounding pretty good, if a little far away, Zoe and Hari board the bus to the highlands towards a new life. However, on arrival, Zoe finds herself landed in the midst of a truly dysfunctional family and working for a bookshop owner who is hard to please and with customers who are even more difficult to deal with. Can the wonderful setting, in such contrast to what she has left behind, and the fact that Hari seems happy compensate for the challenges of her new situation?

I thought this was a marvellous story. It has it all; humour, many dramatic moments, surprising revelations and promises of romance. Having previously read The Little Shop of Happy Ever After, I was delighted to meet up with familiar characters and find out how their lives have progressed. I’m sure I’m not alone in enjoying that aspect of any story. Here, although Zoe finds herself in the midst of a chaotic household with a distant father, children with behavioural problems and a weird housekeeper, she is not deterred and I admired her tenacity greatly. Of course, her lovely surroundings, so well depicted by Jenny, free from the noise and bustle of the city, would go a long way to persuading anyone to stay. I was impressed with the way in which Jenny dealt so sensitively with the mental health issues raised in the story. This is a book I would highly recommend to other readers; you might even be tempted to go monster hunting in this stunning area of the highlands.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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