The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan
I have just started on Instagram (@coffeebooksandcake - if you want to come and say hi) and this is a whole new world to me. In some ways I both love and hate Instagram. It can be great for connecting with people, meeting new friends and hopefully following your favourite author. It's also a good way to see new recommendations and I've not quite worked out what a live read-a-long is yet. Seeing all of these new books though is a slightly double-edged sword as now I want to read ALL the books.
It was on Instagram that I re-discovered Jenny Colgan (@jennycolganbooks). First of all I love Jenny Colgan's Instagram. She has a very cute dog named Nedouard and she makes me giggle with her many adventures. The Bookshop on the Shore reflects Jenny's lovely friendly, chatty style. The book is the follow on from the 'Little Shop of Happy Ever After'. I hadn't read this one before and it did not affect my reading of this novel at all. In fact I now want to read 'Little Shop of Happy Ever After' to learn more about my favourite characters.
Zoe lives with her 4 year old son Hari in a depressing bedsit in London. Hari is beautiful and has elective mutism. Through a mutual friend, an opportunity comes up to look after a mobile bookshop situated in the Highlands of Scotland. Accommodation is provided as Zoe takes on a second job as an au pair to 3 emotionally damaged children and their remote Father. Can Zoe make her new life work in Scotland? and how will this affect Hari?
First of all, can I say I fell completely in love with sweet Hari and Patrick, the youngest of the children Zoe is looking after. Patrick and Hari become firm friends. It was this pairs friendship and Hari's growing confidence that stood out for me in the novel. Patrick is hysterical! Fiercely protective of Hari and with the vocabulary of a 1930's young man, he is truly delightful.
The novel focuses more on family drama than romance and mental health is discussed truthfully and sensitively, particularly with Mary who has never got over her Mother's departure and is self harming and struggling with life. At first the 3 children are almost feral and treat Zoe abominably...to start with...but gradually she patiently shows them new skills, introduces them to joy in the simple things and best of all re-unites them their father.
I was pleasantly surprised by this novel, it is wrapped up as a romance novel and indeed there is a little romance at the end, but is much more. There is a great cast of support characters, a grumpy housekeeper, a boat captain running excursions to see the Loch Ness monster and a strong and silent farmer. The community is marvellous and rally round when tragedy strikes. Best of all when Hari does begin to speak, he has an accent more Scottish than the Krankies on Irn Bru.
This has been a very enjoyable read and I'm happy I have re-acquainted myself with Jenny Colgan's books.