Good day to you Kittens! This week I have for you pure delight in the form of a book. There are certain books that, when you read them, you know are written by a person for whom books bring great joy. Everything that I have ever read by Jenny Colgan brings this feeling to mind. She loves books and she loves people who love books. Her books tend to revolve around female characters and they typically end up being love stories. For those of you who might not be into that kind of thing, let me be clear, there’s more to each story than a romance. I would argue that Colgan’s stories are more about women finding themselves than they are about women finding a man. For these stories, the men are just window dressing. “The Bookshop on the Shore” is a follow up to Colgan’s 2016 release, “The Bookshop on the Corner”. A word to the wise, when you are looking for these books just keep in mind that Colgan’s U.K. Editions sometimes have slightly different titles and they have drastically different covers. “The Bookshop on the Shore” is out today!
Title: The Bookshop on the Shore
Author: Jenny Colgan
Author website: https://www.jennycolgan.com/
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish date: June 25, 2019
The Bookshop on the Shore continues the story of Nina Redmond, a Librarian we met in The Bookshop on the Corner. Colgan returns to the town of Kirrinfief in Scotland, but this time the story focuses on a young woman named Zoe. Zoe is a single mom to an adorable boy named Hari. She is struggling to make ends meet in London as Hari’s deadbeat dad continues to come up with excuses for why he can’t help take care of his son, why he can’t tell his family about Hari, and why they can’t make their relationship work for Hari’s sake. At the end of her rope and unable to afford her rent, Zoe accepts a job offer in Kirrinfief. She will be acting as au pair to a well-established, though mysterious, family while also assisting Nina with the book van. Zoe has experience working with children and loves books…plus, she’s desperate, so this has to work out.
So, of course, it doesn’t work out at all. The children of the Urquart family are little hellions. She is not their first au pair and they want her gone. Their mother has left them and their father is absolutely no help at all and the housekeeper isn’t go to throw Zoe any bones. The one redeeming factor was supposed to be helping Nina with the book ban, but the citizens of Kirrinfief don’t know what they want in a book and they don’t want anything Zoe suggests for them. Hari’s father is still falling down on his responsibilities. Zoe’s at her limits and then, things get even worse.
This book is Jenny Colgan as her readers have come to expect. There’s humor, there’s romance, there’s plenty of unexpected mayhem caused by the very nature of the Scottish weather and people. Zoe is definitely given the fish out of water treatment by the locals. Colgan conveys some of the struggle of being a single parent, particularly to a child with some peculiarities with beautiful poignancy while not weighing the story down too much. Zoe’s life is hard and it wouldn’t be a stretch to understand how she could give up on herself and her dreams, but you know that she will always keep fighting for Hari. This story is about a mother’s unfailing love for her child and the strength of that same women when life throws everything it’s got at her.
The writing is clean and precise. The colloquialisms are easy to gather from context (at least they were for this American reader) and the interspersed cultural details about Scotland and it’s traditions will inspire readers to want to learn more. This book is an easy read. It doesn’t hit the reader over the head with the romance, and in fact I consider that the least important element to the story. Zoe is a triumph who will inspire so many people to get back up when life has bowled them over. This book was lovely while still dealing with the harsh realities many women face when it comes to motherhood and making a living.
Disclaimer: I received an e-galley of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
4 glasses of lemonade= a book you could recommend to a book group or anybody who reads. You might find controversial subject matter, but it is handled delicately.
I really went back and forth on whether to give this one the full 5 glasses of lemonade rating, but I held back for one reason: the story delves into mental health with both adults and children. For that reason, the book might need a trigger warning for some readers, especially those who are sensitive to the idea of medicating young children for mental health purposes. In general, I feel that I can recommend anything Jenny Colgan writes to any reader I come across who just needs a boost.