Contemporary, Fiction

The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan

A Scottish Bookshop Novel

After reading the third in the bookshop loosely related series this summer, 500 Miles From You, I decided I’d just fill my summer with lots of Jenny Colgan and go for three with the series!

Synopsis

From the publisher marketing:
Desperate to escape from London, single mother Zoe wants to build a new life for herself and her four year old son Hari. She can barely afford the crammed studio apartment on a busy street where shouting football fans keep them awake all night. Hari’s dad, Jaz, a charismatic but perpetually broke DJ, is no help at all. But his sister Surinder comes to Zoe’s aid, hooking her up with a job as far away from the urban crush as possible: a bookshop on the banks of Loch Ness. And there’s a second job to cover housing: Zoe will be an au pair for three children at a genuine castle in the Scottish Highlands. 

But while Scotland is everything Zoe dreamed of—clear skies, brisk fresh air, blessed quiet—everything else is a bit of a mess. The Urquart family castle is grand, but crumbling, the childrens’ single dad is a wreck, and the kids have been kicked out of school and left to their own devices. Zoe has her work cut out for her, and is determined to rise to the challenge, especially when she sees how happily Hari has taken to their new home.

With the help of Nina, the friendly local bookseller, Zoe begins to put down roots in the community. Are books, fresh air, and kindness enough to heal this broken family—and her own…?

Review

This summer I’ve turned wholeheartedly to the Brits when I need a good cheering up – from Jenny Colgan for reading to Monty Python for watching, the lighter side of the British stiff upper lip is helping me keep calm and carry on.

Returning once more to the little loch-side town of Kirrinfief was such a treat – I do really wish that this was a real place I could visit on my next road trip through Scotland. In the first book of the trilogy (The Bookshop on the Corner), we as readers follow the journey of Nina, a young English woman who finds herself moving to Scotland to set up a book van/shop and she finds herself swept up in the wonderfulness that is the Highlands. In the third book (500 Miles from You), we follow Cormac and Lissa and switch back and forth between London and Kirrinfief. And in this one, it’s young single mother Zoe, another London transplant to the Highlands, who takes center stage.

While Zoe and her son Hari are Jenny’s main characters, she once again continues to build out a whole colorful cast of secondary characters inhabiting Kirrinfief that you just cannot help but come to love. Some favorites from The Bookshop on the Corner return which is a wonderful surprise, and the children Zoe cares for are unique and complicated with a set of troubles and unfortunate circumstances that anyone would empathize with. The youngest, Patrick, is a particular favorite. He has his own unique way of looking at the world and takes a quick liking to Hari and the pair soon become inseparable.

There are references to the Loch Ness monster and the Loch certainly plays a much larger part in this book than in the other two Scottish Bookshop novels. I felt as though I was standing on the water’s edge with Zoe each day, wondering just what sort of creatures and dangers might be lurking under its surface.

As usual with Jenny’s books, there is a slow-burn, slowly blossoming romance to be found within the pages of The Bookshop on the Shore, but the lovely characters are what make me return to her books time and time again.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Where to Buy
In the USA, I recommend purchasing through BookShop or your local independent, in the UK, and many other parts of the world, I recommend Blackwell’s, and if neither of those cover where you live, I recommend checking out your local booksellers! Independent bookstores are vital parts of every local community and I wholly endorse supporting your local stores versus Amazon.

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