” ‘When you look at things the same way you’ve always done, nothing changes. When you change perspective, everything changes.’ From Up on the Rooftops” -The Bookshop on the Corner
Author: Jenny Colgan
(4.03 stars – Goodreads rating)
Genre: Fiction / Women’s Fiction
Publication Date: June 4, 2019, William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: 416 (Paperback)
Moods for books changed like the weather. Sometimes you wanted something profound to lose yourself in; a completely different world.
I cannot start another series, folks. Nope. Not gonna do it. I refuse! You hear me? I won’t do it! But I do love the mood of this book, and the setting, and the fact that it’s a subtle love story – one that creeps up on you like the haar (evening fog). And I was, in fact, sucked into the story more than a little bit…
Blast you, Jenny Colgan for making me like this book, your characters, and foggy old Scotland! And blast you for teaching me cool weather words to add to my vocabulary like “haar” and “gloaming”. Here’s the blurb:
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…?
…come on, aren’t books – whisper it – quite a lot better in real life?
OK, so let’s get real with each other for a minute – this book sounds familiar, right? An uprooting to a remote location, a fresh start in a new location, and a lot of messes of every size to clean up along the way. But Colgan has added in something else… books! Ahhh, all it takes is the tempting carrot of “bookspeak” to lure us into loving every aspect of this comfortably familiar story.
Colgan’s characters are familiar and interesting. Their quirky nuances drew me into their stories and held me there until the end. Why does Hari not speak? Why is Mr. Urquart really gone all the time? And why is Zoe’s ex-boyfriend such a jerk? The answers to all these questions (well, most of them anyway) are steadily revealed in this well-paced and patient novel about taking chances and hitting the reset button on your life.
And don’t worry, the romance isn’t sappy, and this isn’t one of those insta-love situations either. The relationships are well-crafted and earned. When I first picked it up, it felt long, but it actually moves along really quickly – even for me, a relatively slow reader. Colgan’s descriptions of the Highlands landscape makes me want to visit Loch Ness immediately. All that being said, I still absolutely cannot start another series!!! <dang-it!>
Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street Bakery, and Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.