How to Find Love in a Bookshop
by Veronica Henry
Publishing Date: 16th June 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!.
Number of pages: 336
Genre: Women’s Literature, Contemporary
Nightingale Books, nestled on the high street in Peasebrook, a picture-postcard Cotswold town, is a dream comes true for booklovers. Everyone who enters falls in love with something.
But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open and the developers are circling. The temptation to sell up is proving enormous – but what about the promise she made to her father? Not to mention her customers, for whom the shop is a comfort, a meeting place, a lifeline.
There’s Gary, a stable lad for a nearby trainer, who buys books to read to Nikki, who is lying in a coma. He spends every spare hour at Nikki’s bedside, never giving up hope that she will come round.
Betty, who runs a supper club from her tiny cottage, has a huge crush on a man she met and then lost in the cookery section, somewhere Auguste Escoffier and Marco Pierre White.
Mrs Norris repeatedly ‚forgets’ to pay for her books – and Emilia never has the heart to remind her. But Mrs Norris isn’t quite as forgetful as she pretends …
And then Emilia meets Dexter, local jack-the-lad, who is looking to improve his English so he can better himself. He buys all Emilia’s recommendations, and together they re-discover all her favourite authors. But Dexter has a secret, and is not all he seems…
How to Find Love in a Bookshop is the delightful story of Emilia’s fight to keep her bookshop alive, the customers whose lives she has touched – and the books they all love.
Books about cupcakes, cafes, tearooms seem to be very popular, which is not a wonder, as they usually really live up to the readers’ expectations, but lately I am observing a tendency to put the title or the plot in a book shop – I personally have read two or three book with this subject matter in the last times. And it delights me massively, as could there be a better place in the world than a cosy, friendly book shop? So bring them on, lovely authors. And to be honest, when I first heard about „How to Find Love in a Book Shop”, and then saw this lovely cover, I just knew that it’s going to be a fantastic read.
„How to Find love in a Book Shop” is one of the books that brings love to books to life. It also introduces us to a great cast of characters. Right in the first few chapters we learn about Julius, his life and his love of books, and they alternate with his daughter’s Emilia points of view. Emilia starts to come to terms with her father’s death and the fact that she inherited his beloved book shop that her father would really love if she kept. Nightingale Books is a magic place really, where everybody feels at home and when often the people come for a chat, leaving without buying any book. And Emilia wasn’t aware of the financial status of the shop, so now she’s the one that must give it a new lease of life or… sell. It’s the last thing she wants to do, to be honest, so she’s determined to do everything within her power to keep it – but will she manage? Especially with the local property developer, who’s also determined, but to get the place for himself?
All the feelings and emotions of the characters felt so realistic. Their lives are full of ups and downs, problems and they need to make some serious and important decisions. This all is describes in such a heartfelt way that you can’t help but keep your fingers crossed for them to find their own ways. And as there is such a great cast of characters it is really easy to find those that you can relate to.
Julius Nightingale, even though he was not among the living characters anymore, was like a separate, significant character himself, as truly, you could feel his spirit on almost every single page, and Emilia cherished him immensely. However, but I have no idea why, I personally didn’t warm to him – there was nothing wrong with him, guys, he was a normal person with problems and life has thrown some obstacles his way and he was forced to bring his daughter on his own, yet I just couldn’t trust him and I didn’t have a feeling that he is as good a man as everybody is painting him. I had no reason for this, it’s just my own, personal feeling, so maybe better pay no attention
I liked the determination in Emilia and that she didn’t want to give up till the end. I loved how all the people were there for her after her father died, including sellers, book lovers, musicians and manor owners. I also absolutely adored to see how Emilia finds herself in the shop, how she finds what’s important for her.
Among the main characters the author introduces as also to some background ones who weren’t so significant to the plot I’d say, but they had their own lovely stories that connected them to the bookshop. We have Sarah, the owner of Peasebrook Manor who used to escape to the bookshop, away from her problems, and her lovely daughter Alicia who’s just about to get married to Hugh – Hugh that is not very popular among the locals, as opposed to Dillon, but Dillon is only a gardener at the manor. Then we have Bea who’s relatively new to the village, as she escaped the rat race in London but didn’t know that the domesticity and raising up her daughter is going to bore her to tears. Then there is Jackson, working for the local developer, and there is much more to Jackson that I couldn’t believe my eyes, and you’ve no idea how much I cheered him on. First and foremost he is an example how much books can change a person. Welcome Thomasina, lovely shy Thomasina, teaching cookery at the local school who also has a lovely one – table pop restaurant at home, and who needs to find a courage to speak to a man she likes so much.
So as you see there are many characters, and I haven’t mentioned all of them, and they are all somehow connected to the bookshop. And even with this great number of them I didn’t have any problems to tell who is who and what’s their story, which is a real bonus, as it doesn’t happen often with such number of characters. They all have their own stories – sometimes sad, sometimes poignant – and they all brilliantly weave into the book.
There is one thing that seemed a little under – developed for my liking, and it was the sub – plot with Jackson and the developer. Jackson was supposed to enchant Emilia and convince her she should sell the shop (the above mentioned developer needed the premises desperately but Emilia, as well as Julius earlier, didn’t want to sell), and I thought that he’s going to cause a lot of troubles. At least it was his reputation. However, it turned out – at least for me – that Jackson is a softie and in fact there was not a single attempt of him trying to hinder Emilia. I’m not saying it’s wrong of him, of course not, because I’d hate to see her struggling even more, I’m just saying that after such introduction I was expecting ups and downs and many twists.
This book also had something that I so adore, the community spirit and the way how everybody didn’t hesitate to help each other, to lend a helping hand in the moments of troubles and problems. This time they tried to help Emilia to work out if, and how, to keep the shop, what to do to bring more customers, and I loved their ideas.
Yes, I admit that I was a little afraid when starting reading this novel, as I had some problems with Ms Henry’s previous book, but this time the story kept me so hooked, and it had such a feel – good factor to it, and I found myself racing through the pages in the end. „How to Find Love in a Book Shop” doesn’t only explores love to books but mostly it is a great story about characters that feel so true to life and there is a lot of heart and feelings there. It describes sad and happy times and it just sounds so honest and I really liked how well and skilfully the author woven together all the separate stories of all the characters. It is a story about love, friendship, hope, and this all tied up in one little bookshop. The plot is full to the brims with events and lovely characters who respect each other and who really can come together during a crisis. The writing style is really engaging and very vivid, also very fluent and intelligent but also very accessible. Really recommended!
As June 18 – 25th is Independent Bookshop Week that interlocks also with the publication date of „How to Find Love in a Bookshop”, I’m chuffed to tell you about my favourite bookshop. It’s not in London, it’s even not in the UK, but it’s in Germany, in a small town in the south of Germany. it’s called Stangl & Taubald and what is so great about it is that, except of it being a bookshop – obviously! – it has incredible history. It was opened on 21st September 1864, almost one year after the first railway in Weiden (it’s the town) was opened. Of course, it was also the first bookshop there! There were many owners’ changes throughout the years, with such dates as 1882, 1918, 1920, 1946… In 1989 the current owners took the shop, moved to the centre of the town and are staying there. By now the owners are the third generation of the Stangl family that own the shop!
What I so love in this shop is the atmosphere. it’s friendly and you always feel welcome, no matter if you came only to browse or to buy. The owners and the co – sellers are always helpful and they’re able to dig a book out of nowhere for their customers. Of course they also organize many events and meetings, not only reading but you can also go with them to the biggest book fairs in Germany. And probably abroad
In the bookshop, apart from books, you can of course find many, many other things that, as a bookworm, you’ll find a necessity: all things bookish, stationary, magazines, toys and presents, according to the season and occasion. My idea of heaven, to be honest
FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR