I have loved every book I’ve read by Jenny Colgan and she remains one of my favourite authors so I was delighted to be given the opportunity to read and review her latest novel. Released in the US and Canada as The Bookshop on the Corner, the UK version is entitled The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After.
This book follows Nina, a devoted librarian living in the midlands with her housemate. When the local library service is overhauled, Nina is basically left without a job, with the only opportunity left open to her being to apply for a job which quite frankly is far from what Nina is used to: sharing her love of books with others and matching people to the perfect book for them. Feeling a little lost, Nina needs to re-evaluate and quickly. When she spots an advert for a rather large van up in the Scottish Highlands, a seemingly crazy idea takes formation – could Nina start her own mobile bookshop business? When she accrues the bulk of library stock she certainly has products to start selling! But is it a go-er?
This was another fantastic book by Jenny. The contrasting locations were very vivid in my mind. Nina has quite an unusual way of getting her stock up to Scotland, making the most of new friendships formed with freight train drivers she meets in an eventful situation at a crossing in an outing in the rather large and wayward van. I loved this part of the story, particularly the messages and gifts left on the tree between the characters.
Nina quickly settles into a different way of life and goes with the flow. Having never anticipated staying up in the highlands to run her business, she soon realises that this business is just what is needed in the area! There are some great characters, her grumpy farmer landlord Lennox, the teenager in need, and her brother and her former housemate who comes to stay for an extended period of time. There’s a great sense of place and community in this book and the passion for books and reading is clear throughout, Nina’s enthusiasm rubs off on people young and old, avid and reluctant readers, which I loved to read about.
There is, of course, a romance element, and whilst not wanting to give anything away, I did enjoy these parts of the story, particularly the fairy-tale romance--or so it seems--in the earlier parts of the novel. Overall though, romance was a secondary feature to a novel I enjoyed once more due to its sense of community and place. My only slight criticism is that it felt a bit rushed in parts, for example it seemed as soon as Nina arrives in the highlands she is immediately part of the community without this building or being explained in the narrative, but a minor thing that didn’t bother me.
A real treat of a book, especially for keen book-enthusiasts who love to share the joy of reading with others.
Thanks to HarperCollins for the book in exchange for an honest review.
More by Jenny Colgan: