Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

 

40917823Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 15th November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

When Lizzy writes her annual Round Robin to send out with her Christmas cards, she realises it’s all about the rest of her family. Fed up and exhausted by yet another year of singlehandedly trying to make it a perfect Christmas, Lizzy takes a pile of books, her cosiest clothes and the Ocado order and escapes to a beach hut on the North Devon coast. This year, Christmas is going to be all about her.

Meanwhile, the other inhabitants in the beach huts are trying to escape Christmas too. But somehow, the spirit of Christmas wheedles its way back into everyone’s hearts and Lizzy is at the centre of the activity. By Christmas day there are fairy lights strung up round the beach hut and a turkey roasting on the barbecue!

So when Lizzy’s family track her down, just how will they convince her she means the world to them – every day of the year?

Rating: three-stars

Lizzy loves her family and her home. However this year, shortly before Christmas, she starts to realize that they… well, they take her for granted. she’s always there for them but they don’t respect her wishes and think only about themselves. So she decides to take matters on her own hands and decides to leave. Not for good, oh no, only for Christmas, to think things over and figure out why she isn’t happy any more. She flees to Everdene, where her friend has a beach hut where she can spend her time on her own – right?

The chapters changed between different points of view. Lizzy is actually our main character and I liked her from the very beginning. I could totally get her frustration and her need to just flee after years of taking care of everyone else and putting her own needs behind. She was so relatable, and the way she wasn’t sure what to do next, her feelings and emotions were so easily brought to life by the author. Hats off to Lizzie for doing what she did, it takes for sure tons of courage to make such a step. She was such a great wife and mother but she didn’t feel appreciated, and no wonder, as she was really take for granted.
But the novel also tells us about Harley and Jack who, as well as Lizzy, want to escape Christmas. They all have their own personal reasons for this and believe me guys when I tell you that their stories are poignant and heart – breaking. You will understand those reasons and fell for them quickly. The author seamlessly and effortlessly allows us into the characters’ heads, how gradually we learn about them, about what make them tick, about their background and histories and start to understand them.

The beach hut was so welcoming, and it was a perfect place to stay – I loved the descriptions of it, it really felt as if it was a place where you could forget about all your troubles and problems and I would love to have a possibility to escape there as well.

I was a little afraid to start reading this book as it is the next to “The Beach Hut” and “The Beach Hut Next Door”, both of which I have yet to read, but I can easily reassure you now, after reading it, that it is a perfect stand – alone novel. However, this book didn’t wow me as much as I think it would. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, it was a perfectly nice read, it was probably the last finish touch that I missed. It also felt too slow and there weren’t really many turns and twists. It took a long time for all the threads to come together and there were too many characters with name that started with “H” – Hal, Hayley and I think there was another one, Hattie, and I was confused for a long time before I finally started to tell them apart.

But altogether, it was a very enjoyable book about family, putting yourself first at least but not forgetting about other people, about courage and priorities. Although it is not my favourite by this author, I’d still recommend it to you if you’re looking for a relaxing and relatable read and it is for sure a book that can’t be missing on your Christmas wish – list or reading pile if you’re Veronica Henry’s fan. It touched upon many different issues, some of them more difficult and heavier than the others: mental abuse, grief, taking for granted. Veronica Henry has way with words, she’s a brilliant storyteller and her writing style is easy to follow, light and inviting. It was a heart – warming, poignant, full of emotions escapism, full of stories and characters that are true to life and relatable.

 

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A Family Recipe by Veronica Henry / #BlogTour + Extract

Hi guys, hope you’re all doing great. Today is my stop on Veronica Henry’s blog tour that’s celebrating her newest release, “A Family Recipe”, and this book is a charming little gem of a novel, full of relatable characters and situations, and really guys, you should all read it. Next to my review I have a teeny tiny foretaste for you – an extract from the story. Enjoy!

 

A Family Recipe by Veronica Henry

 

39337351Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 17th May 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The brand-new feel-good story from bestseller Veronica Henry –
a perfect mix of family, friends and delicious food.

What’s the secret ingredient to your happiness?

Laura Griffin is preparing for an empty nest. The thought of Number 11 Lark Hill falling silent – a home usually bustling with noise, people and the fragrant smells of something cooking on the Aga – seems impossible. Laura hopes it will mean more time for herself, and more time with her husband, Dom.

But when an exposed secret shakes their marriage, Laura suddenly feels as though her family is shrinking around her. Feeling lost, she turns to her greatest comfort: her grandmother’s recipe box, a treasured collection dating back to the Second World War. Everyone has always adored Laura’s jams and chutneys, piled their sandwiches high with her pickles . . . Inspired by a bit of the old Blitz spirit, Laura has an idea that gives her a fresh sense of purpose.

Full of fierce determination, Laura starts carving her own path. But even the bravest woman needs the people who love her. And now, they need her in return . . .

Rating: four-stars

Laura is just about to experience an empty nest syndrome – her youngest daughter Willow is leaving for university. The daughter that Laura focused on for so many years, and worried about for so many years when she was fighting against the life threatening asthma. Jasmine, the older daughter, the much more independent and – what’s more important – healthy one, has left home already to study. So Laura is now facing a question, what to do with her life – she didn’t have to work, she only needed to concentrate on her husband and daughters but what now?
Laura’s widowed grandmother has gave up the 11 Lark Hill to Laura and Dom and moved to a smaller house on the same property. Now Laura decides to do up and rent some of the rooms on Airbnb. It’s a great distraction, as there are things happening in Laura’s life that she’s never expected. Is her marriage going to survive? Will Willow stay healthy at the university?

I loved how effortlessly did Veronica Henry weave two – at first sight – different stories set in different times. One of the stories follows young Kanga – Jilly – living through the Blitz in WW2 in Bath, bringing back the memories of the severe destruction, of loss. It was a beautiful story bringing to life Jilly’s friendship with Ivy – the girls supported each other in their most dark moments and stayed friends for ever. Jilly has never forgotten Ivy’s support, the courage she has given her when Jilly discovered she’s pregnant and is going to be a single mum – she knows she wouldn’t be able to do it without Ivy.
The second story is about Laura and her world being shattered by discovering that her husband is having an affair. I admired Laura’s consequence and how firm she was in this situation but to be honest I also started to feel sorry for the poor Dom. Sure, as you make your bed so you must lie on it and I am not justifying him but there came a moment that I really wanted Laura to give him a chance to at least talk to her, and honestly I was surprised that he went for this whole charade, as Laura didn’t want to tell their daughters about them splitting up. I thought, hey, they’re grown up, they’re not children any more and using Willow’s asthma as a pretext can only work for a time. Nevertheless, this situation gave Laura the chance to find herself afresh, and what a better way than to dig out the old family recipes and start making jams and chutneys in her beloved but moody Aga?

The two leading female characters, Jilly and Laura, were brilliantly written by Veronica Henry. It was great to observe Laura standing again on her own two feet, coming to terms with her new life, being so strong and becoming independent. Getting to know Kanga and her history was great, her story was so poignant and heart – breaking, and I loved how determined she was. The relationship between them, between grandmother and granddaughter was unforced, natural and genuine and I loved that Kanga wasn’t one of those grandmothers that meddle in other lives. I also think that the author has managed to capture Laura at the best moment – this character could have gone two ways, as a spoiled, always leaning on somebody housewife, or a strong, determined woman who wants to do something useful with her life, and the author has she pulled it off in the best possible way. Laura was likeable and from the very beginning I warmed to her.

“A Family Recipe” was a lovely, down – to – earth family saga, with likeable and believable characters, warm and inviting. The writing style is so easy to follow, full of depth, emotions and feelings and I immediately felt a part of this story. Veronica Henry has – again – delivered a charming novel about family, friends, love, betrayal and forgiveness in challenging times. I truly enjoyed this book and I can only highly recommend it to you all, guys.

EXTRACT

2

September 2017

Willow had asked for nachos for her farewell supper.

Laura was pathologically incapable of doing

what most normal people would have done: plonked a

saucepan of chilli on the table with a packet of tortilla

chips and got everyone to help themselves.

Instead, by five o’clock the evening before Willow

was due to go to university for the first time, a huge

cauldron on the hot-pink Aga belted out a cloud of steam

scented with cumin and cinnamon and chilli. On the

worktop were bowls filled with grated cheese, soured

cream, guacamole, jalapeños, spicy beans, finely chopped

coriander and chargrilled sweetcorn salsa. Wedges of lime

were waiting to be stuffed into bottles of beer – ‘cerveza’,

Laura teased herself with a Spanish lisp.

She had stopped short of making margaritas because no

one would want to face the next day with a hangover: it

was a six-hour drive to York and it was going to be a difficult

enough day without a thumping tequila headache.

She’d put a row of tiny cactuses in pots down the

middle of the slate-topped island and empty milk

bottles filled with bright pink, yellow and orange gerbera.

A donkey piñata hung from one of the hooks in

the ceiling. She’d managed to refrain from filling it with

sweets. This wasn’t an actual party, after all, just a goodbye

to Willow from her family and her friends, and a few

neighbours, and . . . well, Laura didn’t know exactly who

else, but by eight o’clock the joint would be jumping.

That was how things rolled at Number 11.

It was Laura’s schtick to go to immense trouble, but her

efforts on this occasion were doubled, masking the fact

that tomorrow was the day she had been dreading more

than any other in her life – and there had been a few. She

stood for a moment in the quiet of the kitchen.

This kitchen was her safe place, where she felt love and

gave love. There was always a sense of calm underlying the

chaos. No one else knew how she did it.

‘How do you make it look so effortless? I always have

a nervous breakdown when I’m entertaining. Nothing

looks right, nothing tastes right, and I worry myself to

death.’ Her best friend, Sadie, was eternally mystified by

her entertaining skills.

‘Because I love it? Because I don’t have a career? Because

I don’t look as if I’ve just walked off the pages of Vogue?’

Laura teased.

Sadie owned La, the most fashionable boutique in

Bath, and always looked incredible. ‘But you’re naturally

gorgeous. You don’t have to spend hours making yourself

look ravishing. You just are,’ she complained.

It was true, with her eyes the colour of maple syrup and

her tousled dark mane. Laura, however, thought she was

overweight and unkempt, as it was all she could do to pull

a comb through her hair. She wore skinny jeans, because

her legs were like matchsticks, and had a selection of linen

shirts and sloppy sweaters that covered her embonpoint

and her tummy, about which she was unnecessarily selfconscious.

She didn’t see her own beauty.

‘I’m top heavy,’ she complained. ‘Like a robin – far too

big for my silly little bird legs.’

She felt distinctly unglamorous at this moment, her

hair tied up on top of her head with the elastic band the

postman brought the letters in, a blue and white apron

wrapped round her and a wooden spoon in her hand,

dishevelled and covered in tomato sauce. She was also

finding it desperately hard to stop herself from seeing how

Willow was getting on with her packing.

The back of the car was already loaded up with everything

a new student could possibly want, mostly courtesy

of Ikea to keep the cost down. But Laura had spoiled

Willow with a few things. A luxury mattress topper, essential

for making a strange single bed comfortable. A fleecy

blanket to snuggle up in when it was cold and Willow

was missing home. And some Jo Malone bath oil, because

Laura believed in the power of smell to comfort you.

Willow, however, was a girl who liked to leave everything

to the last minute. Even now her favourite sweatshirt

was rolling around the tumble dryer because she’d only

fetched it from her friend’s house this morning. Laura,

who laid everything out on the spare bed a week before

they went on holiday, found it nerve-racking.

Dom told her not to worry. If Willow forgot anything

she could do without until she came back for the weekend.

‘I probably won’t come back till Christmas,’ Willow

had pointed out. ‘York’s miles and I won’t be able to

afford the train fare.’

Laura’s stomach lurched at the thought of three months

without seeing her daughter, but she squashed the feeling

down. Instead, she sat down at the island and picked up

her Berol pen. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d

written a proper letter, but she wouldn’t be able to say

what she wanted to say without blubbing. As she began to

write, in her best handwriting, she relished the satisfaction

of forming perfect letters, the ink running smoothly across

the paper, the loops and the circles and the curlicues.

Number 11 Lark Hill

Bath

My darling Willow,

Apologies in advance for doing one of those embarrassingly

sentimental mum things. You know how good I am at

those! But I wanted to send you off on your adventure with

something to remind you of home, and I couldn’t think of

anything better than these recipes. They all come from the

little recipe box I keep in the pantry. You and Jasmine have

used them often enough over the years because they still

have your sticky paw prints on them!

The oldest recipes go all the way back to your greatgreat-

grandma – the flapjack and the Yorkshire pudding

come from her (also good for toad-in-the-hole!). The

crumble and the tea loaf come from Kanga – she used to

cook them during the war for the people she had living with

her at Number 11. The avgolemono and the spanakopita

are from my mother, from her travels in Greece . . . I was

not the only thing she brought back!! You can taste the

sunshine in them – they are for when the wind is howling

outside and you want to feel warmed.

The rest are from me: things I have made for you over

the years. Brownies and pancakes and sausage rolls for

sharing. And your favourite suppers: spag bol and chilli

and Thai curry. I know you probably know how to cook

them, but I wanted you to have a keepsake, a little bit

of family history to keep with you. And I know you will

probably live on Cheerios and Cheesy Puffs and Chinese

takeaways, but maybe from time to time you might want

some proper home-made comfort food to share with your

new friends.

I’m so proud of you, darling girl. I know you will fly, and

make the most of this wonderful opportunity.

With lots of love and kisses

Mum xx

Laura looked down at the letter, the inevitable tears blurring

her eyes, then folded the sheet into three. She tucked

it inside the Moleskine notebook she had bought specially.

Each page held a different recipe, carefully copied. It had

taken her over a week to write it, as she’d had to hide it

from everyone. She wanted it to be a surprise, but she was

also a bit self-conscious. Was it too sentimental?

‘My goodness – it smells absolutely wonderful in here.’

‘Kanga! You made me jump.’ Laura put a hand to her

chest. ‘I was miles away.’

Kanga walked through the kitchen, lifting the lid on

the pot and smelling it appreciatively. She looked around

the room.

‘What is this? Fiesta time?’

‘You know me. I can’t help myself.’ Laura grinned, sliding

the notebook into a drawer. ‘I’m sure Willow would

much rather go to the pub with her mates.’

‘She did that last night. Tonight’s for family – she

knows that.’

‘Yes. I want it to be a good send-off, though.’

‘You’re a good mummy.’

‘I had a good role model.’ Laura smiled at her grandmother.

Kanga had brought her up from the age of four,

when Laura’s mum had died. The tiny, thoughtful Laura had

decided that she didn’t want to call her ‘Granny’ any more,

as she was so much more than that, and had christened her

Kanga, after her favourite Winnie the Pooh character.

At ninety-three, Kanga was still more than just a

grandmother – though she looked barely seventy-three.

She was in a pale-pink linen shirt and black trousers and

soft boots, her bright white hair cut close to her jaw, her

dark-grey eyes with their hooded lids missing nothing.

Of course Laura worried she was too thin, but Kanga

had laughed that her appetite had gone with her libido

many years ago, and she was much happier for it. ‘I have

so much more time now I don’t have to think about sex

or food,’ she claimed. Laura wasn’t sure what else there

was to live for.

‘No Dom?’ asked Kanga, taking a seat at the island.

‘He’s got a meeting with the quantity surveyor this

afternoon. So he’s bound to stop off at the Wellie on the

way home.’

The Wellington Arms was Dom’s favourite watering hole,

where he and his property mates cut deals and watched

rugby and sneaked in dirty pints on a Friday afternoon.

Kanga frowned. ‘Even on Willow’s last night?’

‘It’s fine. He’d only drive me mad if he was here. It’s

always much better if he turns up five minutes before

every one else and doesn’t interfere.’ Laura pulled the elastic

band out of her hair, wincing as it caught. ‘Can I leave

you to keep an eye on everything while I get changed?’

Of course.’

‘There’s wine in the fridge.’

In her bedroom, Laura tipped her head upside down

and sprayed dry shampoo onto her roots then ran her

fingers through her curls. There was no time now for a

shower. She pulled off the sweatshirt she’d been cooking

in and rifled through her wardrobe for something

to wear. Sadie was incredibly generous and always gave

Laura things from La for her birthday she would never

dare choose for herself. She pulled out a pearl grey shirt

with pintucks and pearl buttons, pulling it over her head.

It looked perfect – it fitted in all the right places, as expensive

clothes tend to.

‘Hey, Mum.’ Willow sauntered in. Laura’s heart

squeezed. Every time she saw her she wanted to hold

her tight. All her fears whooshed in – a runaway bus,

an insecure balcony, a virulent strain of meningitis . . .

Oh God, had Willow actually had all the jabs she should

have? Laura knew she’d checked a trillion times, but what

if she thought she’d arranged it but had forgotten? The

familiar dry mouth of anxiety hit her and she worked her

tongue to get some saliva.

‘Have you finished packing?’

‘I think so. I’m going to do make-up and stuff in the

morning.’ Willow flopped on the bed.

‘Are you excited?’

‘I don’t know about excited . . .’

Of course. Excited wasn’t cool. ‘Looking forward to it?’

‘It’ll be what it is, won’t it?’

‘Well, I think it’s exciting. York’s lovely. We can explore

tomorrow. Maybe an open-topped bus tour if it’s sunny.’

Willow laughed.

‘What?’ asked Laura, hurt.

‘You’re so funny, Mum.’

‘I’m not trying to be funny.’

‘I know. That’s why you are.’

Willow jumped up and put her arms round her. Laura

breathed her in. Sugary, powdery perfume and Wrigley’s

and the awful incense she insisted on burning in her

bedroom. Not like Jasmine, who was driving back to her

third year at uni in Loughborough by herself the next

morning, who smelled of chlorine and talc and muscle

rub.

Laura had always been grateful for Jasmine’s love of

sport. It had given their life structure at a time when

everything else was chaos. Asthma was nothing if not

disruptive. They had never really known when Willow

might have an attack. There’d been a team of mums ready

to help whenever she did: the netball mafia were fiercely

loyal and supportive, taking Jasmine home for tea or for a

sleepover or dropping her home. Laura could never repay

them as long as she lived, but they didn’t want repaying.

Of course not.

Jasmine could have told her she was going to Timbuktu

on a skateboard and she wouldn’t have worried. They were

close, but in a very different way. When Jaz had gone off

to Loughborough, Laura had treated them both to a day

at the spa in Bath, swimming on the rooftop and sitting

in the Roman steam room and the ice chamber and the

celestial relaxation room; a physical treat for the physical

Jaz, who rarely sat still for a moment and didn’t really

need nurturing.

But Willow . . .

She felt tears fill her eyes. She didn’t want to go down

to the kitchen and share Willow with everyone else. She

wanted to curl up on the bed with her, watch a few

episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix, eat a bowlful of

M&M’s, let her daughter fall asleep in her arms, like they

always used to when she was recuperating.

‘Do you think I should take Magic?’ Willow asked.

Magic. The white toy rabbit whose fur had worn away

to nothing, he had been hugged so much. So called because

he was the Magic Rabbit who helped her fall asleep

in a plethora of strange hospitals. Laura felt fearful for

him. What if he got lost or stolen or thrown out of the

window as a student jape?

‘If you want to leave him here, I’ll look after him.’

‘I kind of want him, but I don’t know if you’re supposed

to take your cuddly animals to uni.’ Willow made

a face. ‘Of course Jasmine didn’t, but we all know Jaz

doesn’t need looking after.’

Jasmine’s teddy was as pristine as the day it had been

bought.

‘I’d leave him here,’ said Laura, not wanting to admit

that Magic had been as much a talisman for her as Willow.

‘You will look after yourself, won’t you?’

‘Mum.’ Willow sat up and fixed her mother with a

stern stare. ‘Will you stop worrying? I’m not an idiot.

And it’s been nearly eighteen months.’

‘That doesn’t mean you won’t have an attack. Anything

could trigger one.’

York, thought Laura. If something went wrong, she

couldn’t be there quickly. Even London would have been

nearer. But maybe Willow felt the need to escape. She

knew she’d been guilty of smothering, but what mother

wouldn’t?

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The Forever House by Veronica Henry

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The Forever House by Veronica Henry

34333917Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 18th May 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction (Adults), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The house of your dreams. But can this dream last forever?

Hunter’s Moon is the ultimate ‘forever’ house. Nestled by a river in the Peasebrook valley, it has been the Willoughbys’ home for over fifty years, and now estate agent Belinda Baxter is determined to find the perfect family to live there. But the sale of the house unlocks decades of family secrets – and brings Belinda face to face with her own troubled past.

A gorgeous escapist read for anyone needing a hug in a book – perfect for fans of Erica James, Lucy Diamond and Harriet Evans.

Rating: five-stars

“The Forever House” is my third book by Veronica Henry and when I thought that there is nothing that could overdo her “How to Find Love in a Bookshop”, I can certainly state that this newest release is as good as the latter. I’ve no idea how Veronica Henry does it, but there is such warmth to the writing, it is so inviting that you immediately feel at home when reading her novels. She brings all the emotions and feelings of the characters so effortlessly to life and I very quickly found myself engrossed in their lives and couldn’t wait to see what’s going to happen. Last year I read a book very similar in topic to “The Forever House” but I must admit that, even though it was by a very respectable author, the novel by Veronica Henry much better captures the whole idea of the forever house. And! This book has one of the most beautiful covers, guys, with beautiful colours, font, picture and some glitter – I love it!

Hunter’s Moon is a gorgeous property, a house with history, handed from one generation to the next. However, Sally and Alexander need to downsize, there are some very heart – breaking reasons for this decisions, and they managed to convince themselves that it is the right decision, even though you can see and feel from the beginning that it is the last thing they want to do. They’ve been happily living in this house for over 50 years, brought up their children there, and all their memories are in those walls.
The story is interlacing past and present. We get to know all the characters, their past, how they all met and how their stories started to intertwine. And always, in the heart of their lives, there was Hunter’s Moon. I absolutely loved the chapters dedicated to present, I was immersed in Belinda’s story but also the parts about Sally and Alexander set in the late 1960’s were brilliant – the author has captured the atmosphere of those time in the best possible way. In the past we see how young Sally met Alexander, how come she got to belong to the Willoughby family, why they all couldn’t do without her – starting with the best – selling author, Alexander’s extravagant mother, through his sisters to his unhappy father, and how she fell in love with Hunter’s Moon and the family living there.

Present introduces us to Belinda Baxter, an estate agent with her own story and history. She’s the one looking after the sale of Hunter’s Moon, and I loved how she took it seriously and differently – she wanted to find not only those people who’s pay the biggest sum, but she also wanted to find the right people. She truly cared about the homes she was to sell, and also about the people. She also knew how it is to find you perfect, forever house and then loose it, so maybe this is what made her tick, understand and be so sensible and understanding. She was full of passion and loved her job and she was really likeable from the first word.
As I have mentioned, Belinda has a history, that, very unexpectedly, comes back to hit her hard. What was absolutely adorable was that Belinda loved shopping in the Nightingale Books bookshop that we so well know from Ms Henry’s previous novel!

The characters are so very well developed, there is depth in them, they are believable and likeable – all of them, even the background ones. You really have a feeling that any time they can just jump out off the pages. Hunter Moon’s is a character in its own right. It is this kind of house that, once you entered, you never wanted to leave. It was a house that has been with the family for many years, a house that has seen a lot and has secrets of its own. Also, the setting of Peasebrook is gorgeous and there is this lovely community feeling.

This story deals with some more serious issues but not in a way that makes you feel overwhelmed with them. This makes the book so down – to – earth and realistic, as life is not always a bed of roses and the author has brilliantly portrayed it in her book. It is above all about families and their dynamics, and about the old saying that home is where the heart is. The writing style is so charming and the story is really addictive and I raced through the pages to eventually reach a very satisfying, beautiful end. “The Forever House” was an incredible read – the kind that you just want to stay inside it and never leave; a very emotional tale, mixing sadness with happiness, hope and despair in a perfect way, capturing imagination. Highly recommended!

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

How to Find Love in a Bookshop

by Veronica Henry

Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 16th June 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher,  thank you!.

Number of pages: 336

Genre: Women’s Literature, Contemporary

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 22.09.2016)

 Synopsis:

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.

Rating: 5/5

 

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 :)

 

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