Book review: The Little Shop of Happy Ever After – Jenny Colgan

I kindly received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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Release date: 11th February 2016 (Little, Brown Book Group)

Synopsis: Given a back-room computer job when the beloved Birmingham library she works in turns into a downsized retail complex, Nina misses her old role terribly – dealing with people, greeting her regulars, making sure everyone gets the right books for their needs. Then a new business nobody else wants catches her eye: owning a tiny little bookshop bus up in the Scottish highlands. No computers. Shortages. Out all hours in the freezing cold; driving with a tiny stock of books… not to mention how the little community is going to take to her, particularly when she stalls the bus on a level crossing… 

I have quite a few Jenny Colgan books on the bookcases and have enjoyed each of them. However, for some unknown reason, I have not read any of the recent ones so I was pleased to receive Jenny’s latest novel, The Little Shop of Happy Ever After and devoured it in 2 sittings!

What’s not to love about this story; books, romance and the Scottish Highlands! 2 things I learnt from this book, that I’d quite like a travelling bookshop and I quite like the idea of living in Kirrinfief.

Nina is a librarian with a love of books who is devastated when the library she works in is closed. Whilst saving copious amounts of books from the library closure, much to her housemate Surinder’s despair, she comes up with the idea of a travelling bookshop. Nina finds a van and gets carried away with her dream. Unfortunately Birmingham City Council are not too keen on the idea of a massive book-filled van being parked up on their roads but that doesn’t stop Nina from following her dreams, she takes the plunge and moves to Scotland.

Nina finds accommodation in a beautiful property on a farm, the only problem with the cottage is the grumpy farmer, Lennox,  who is her landlord. Nina befriends a couple of kind train drivers who help her with delivering books to her from Birmingham to stock her van. Nina exchanges books and poetry with the younger driver, Marek, who she develops quite a soft-spot for. Nina’s business goes from strength to strength as do her friendships with the locals; she befriends a young girl called Ainslee, and her little brother Ben who enjoys the escapism of books?

Whilst I liked all of the characters in the book, I particularly liked Nina as  could relate to her love of books and the escapism that they provide and Surinder due to her down-to-earth character. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Nina and Surinder as they are polar opposites who compliment each other. Their friendship shouldn’t work and that’s what makes it really great! I also quite liked Lennox, I found him very Mr Darcy’esq with his rudeness and standoffishness.

I struggled to put this book down – I just wanted to keep reading, to find out about the characters, the friendships that were forming and how the romantic interactions were going to develop. The imagery that Jenny beautifully creates for the farm and Scottish highlands is amazing, I particularly enjoyed the references to the traditions that are still followed.

One of the things I took from this book is the importance of community and the giving as well as the taking, which in this case brought together by Nina and her ‘Little Shop of Happy Ever After’.

I’d forgotten how much I enjoy Jenny’s style of writing, I will now be going through her back-catalogue, reading the books I’ve missed!

 

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