Title: The Bookshop on the Corner
Author: Jenny Coogan
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 2016
In the current age of technology, social media, and financial cutbacks, the Birmingham library where Nina Redmond works finds itself without purpose and Nina, without a job. At age twenty-nine, all Nina has ever known and loved are books. Her roommate has finally hit her limit of all the lost and lonely books that Nina brings home and declares that Nina and her books must go.
Now, out of a job and a home, Nina searches for a new start. In the transition program that is meant to help the displaced workers find that next step, Nina reveals her lifelong dream – to own a bookstore. However, with limited means, Nina instead settles on a search for a book van and she finds one . . . in Scotland.
As so begins a grand adventure of negotiating the purchase of the van, finding a new place to live, figuring how to get her books to the van, learning how to drive the van, and endeavoring to make a living sharing her love of books with the readers she meets.
Along the way, she meets a host of characters: Edwin and Hugh, her pub buddies; Lennox, her cantankerous landlord, Marek, her mysterious and sexy book smuggler; and Ben and Ainslee, the children whose secrets tug at her heart. But as Nina shares her passion for books and talent at perfectly matching reader to story, she must also decide which chapter of her own life she will follow and if she is willing to step out from behind the pages of the books that she is reading and face the world.
I loved this book. Straightforward and simple, it had all my favorites – a nerdy heroine, a rakish hero, books, and Scotland. Sigh. As with the other Jenny Colgan books, for many they might be considered “chick lit,” but I really feel that her metaphors for life are spot on. She comments that for Nina, whenever the grim, harsh, and unpleasant realities of life rear up, “she always turned to a book.” I think a lot readers do this; find sanctuary and peace in stories that aren’t their own realities.
The author, however, through Nina does warn of the dangers of constantly escaping into a book and forgetting to live your life. The constant imagery and metaphors of books and new chapters really resonate with the reader; the story is a delightful tale, but also a cautionary one.
The author comments that this book – her seventeenth – was written for her readers. She expounds on her favorite reading spots and understands the spark of matching a perfect book to a wounded, expectant, or nervous soul.
As someone who has read a lot of books to children, I also appreciated the theory that “children were evolutionarily engineered to listen to stories, because it stopped them from wandering off in the woods and getting eaten by hairy mammoths.” Makes sense!
Who might like this book:
This book is for book-lovers. It will make you think a bit about why you read and how you read, but most all, it will make you smile.
I have read and loved two other Jenny Colgan books – Little Beach Street Bakery and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery . . . and I might possibly have two more waiting in my to-be-read pile.