Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Review: The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

All around us library budgets are being cut, hours reduced, staff made redundant. Those who manage to hang onto their jobs are busy in ways that don't mesh with traditional ideas of librarianship; technology and finding ways to be relevant in an age of computers is one of the biggest challenges for libraries of today. So what happens to those old-fashioned (but not necessarily old in age) librarians whose true love is books and helping the right book into the right reader's hand? Where do these folks go when the scope of the library changes so significantly that this is just a small, small portion of the job? In Jenny Colgan's lovely new novel, The Bookshop on the Corner, main character Nina faces this very conundrum when her own library branch is closed and unwilling to pivot away from her focus on books, she loses her job.

Nina is quiet, bookish, and unassertive. She is a fount of knowledge about books but this skill isn't enough to help her make the move to the more technologically focused centralized library. As the move is going on, she must attend training sessions, one of which asks her to look into her heart and figure out what she would do if she wasn't a librarian. The answer surprises her although it doesn't surprise her friend and flatmate, who worries that Nina's ever burgeoning book collection will cause their flat to collapse. It turns out that Nina would like to own a bookshop. Renting premises is impractical and so she sets her heart on a mobile bookshop somewhere that people are in need of books and her skill of connecting people to the right book. When she finds a van online that would be perfect for a mobile bookshop, she hies to rural Scotland to take a chance on her dream. After doubts and road blocks, both internal and external, she lands in Kirrinfief, Scotland, ready to change her life. As she works toward following her dreams and gaining confidence, she finds community and belonging and, embracing actual real life, she starts to live a life outside of the pages of her beloved books.

Nina is a timid mouse of a character who slowly blossoms in the right climate. The secondary characters, Marek, the train conductor/engineer; Lennox, Nina's landlord--a crusty, cynical farmer; Surinder, Nina's best friend from Birmingham who comes to visit; and Ainslee and Ben, the children Nina grows close to in town, are all delightful and appealing.  Each of them is not only a fully fleshed character in their own right but each of them shows the reader a new facet of Nina's personality.  The story is a charming and sweet romance, with books, between townspeople and a welcome outsider, and between Nina and a good man. Although Nina faces some setbacks and disappointments, these are not dwelt upon nor is the reality of the non-book work (accounting and the like) involved in opening a business really mentioned, giving the novel a dreamy, fairy tale feel. The story is a gentle and joyous look at the good in life and it will appeal to fans of whimsical, feel-good tales, those who love books about bookselling, and those for whom a small Scottish village is their idea of heaven. In short, it appeals to someone very much like me!

For more information about Jenny Colgan and the book, check out her website, like her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter. Also, check out the book's Good Reads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the HarperCollins for sending me a copy of this book to review.


  1. Oooh, I've been waiting to see someone I trust post a review of this book. Looks like I might be going to the bookshop soon...

  2. Someone very much like me as well!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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