The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan
Publishing Date: 13th June 2019
Series: Scottish Bookshop #2
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 432
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
A grand baronial house on Loch Ness, a quirky small-town bookseller, and a single mom looking for a fresh start all come together in this witty and warm-hearted novel by New York Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan.
Desperate to escape from London, single mother Zoe wants to build a new life for herself and her son Hari. She can barely afford the crammed studio apartment on a busy street where honking horns and shouting football fans keep them awake all night. If she doesn’t find a way out soon, Zoe knows it’s just a matter of time before she has a complete meltdown. On a whim, she answers an ad for a nanny job in the Scottish Highlands, which is about as far away from the urban crush of London as possible. It sounds heavenly!
The job description asks for someone capable of caring for three “gifted children”, two of which behave feral wolverines. The children’s widowed father is a wreck, and the kids run wild in a huge tumbledown castle on the heather-strewn banks of Loch Ness. Still, the peaceful, picturesque location is everything London is not—and Zoe rises to the challenges of the job.
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…?
Zoe is a single mum, struggling to bring up her son Hari in a tiny bed-sit in Wembley. Hari is a lovely 4 – year – old boy, but he can’t speak – at all. His father never seems to have money to help, so when Zoe’s landlord raises the rent on the flat and then the opportunity of a job as a nanny and a bookseller in the remote Scottish village arises, she doesn’t hesitate long. However, Zoe quickly learns that the three children she should look after have recently gone through 6 nannies and are determined to get rid of the 7th, immediately. The bookshop’s customers simply rely on Nina, the owner, to know which books they want to read and Zoe has no idea. Was this a mistake to move so far away from her old life?
Jenny Colgan is one of the best storytellers ever, period. Her writing style is exceptional, chatty and so natural, and there is always so much humour and wisdom in her words. Each time when reading her book I simply feel better, as if the book and characters were hugging me, making me feel better and more optimistic. It is also her unique talent to transport the reader into the setting of her stories, this time to the beautiful, wild Scottish Highlands – the descriptions are incredibly gorgeous and vivid and you immediately feel like being there, seeing rather than reading.
The characters, as always, were a perfect mix of personalities, all with such distinctive voices and all bringing so much to the story. I loved reading about Zoe and Hari, even though their lives are not like a garden full of roses. I actually immediately warmed to her and she was instantly growing on me more and more.
The children were simply hilarious, in their own ways, all already struck by the reality of life in different ways and Zoe is determined to help them all to get out of their shells, to enjoy life, even though it’s not too easy, especially at the beginning, and she has to struggle to earn their trust. She quickly realises that the children simply feel abandon and they are hurting, and their father is so remote that he might as well not be there at all. She knows that what the children need is love and attention, and I loved how right she was in her assumptions, and how much she tried to give them boundaries, rules and love.
What I also adored so much in this story is the sheer love of books and reading shining through the pages. There are so many quotes from some great books and it was brilliant, and the books really felt like characters of their own.
The element of the mystery was there as well, and the author also touches upon mental health issues, of course in a sensitive, gentle way, but she also writes about those things as if they were the most normal things in the world – which they are. There is also the issue of a patchwork family dynamics, the way it can affect us all but also how much it can give us, and really, no matter what Jenny Colgan writes about, it is simply brilliant.
“The Bookshop on the Shore” was charming, uplifting and so incredibly poignant story with quirky and sharp characters and there is so much more to it then a simple romance: problems, troubles, mayhem and humour, struggles of being a single parent, particularly to a child with some issues, about unconditional love and simply being strong. I loved every single word of this book and I can’t recommend it highly enough!