The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
Published by: William Morrow / HarperCollins
Publish Date: 2016
Genre(s): Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary,
HB&W Rating: 2
View on Goodreads
Buy on Amazon: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository
She was feeling genuinely excited now, something buzzing in her chest. Why not her? Why should everyone else get to have dreams and not her?
Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.
Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.
From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.
Synopsis source: Goodreads
Just do something. You might make a mistake, then you can fix it. But if you do nothing, you can’t fix anything. And your life might turn out to be full of regrets.
I was so excited when this title became available to me at the library. I needed a light and fluffy, fun, easy read to help offset the stress of prepping for the holidays. And it was all those things…relatively uncomplicated, funny at times and easy to read, and I didn’t have to think about it too much. But I didn’t care for it.
There were several things that I liked about it, so I’ll start there.
First, the idea was strong. A woman loses her job and starts over in a new country, where she knows no one, and with no safety net, decides to follow a dream of owning her own bookstore, albeit a mobile one, out of a van. I was excited for a “girl makes good” kind of tale. The courage and commitment to chasing her dream was inspiring.
As a book-lover, I also loved all the references to books and titles, and all the talk about books. I could relate to that on so many levels. Having worked at a bookstore many years in my teens and early twenties, I have a real fondness for the written word and the way a story can completely transport you from the real world to a world of the author’s imagining. And books have power: to heal, to help, to encourage, to make us feel less alone. All of that came through loud and clear in this novel.
I also enjoyed some of the small asides we were given from peripheral characters, so as to remind us that often how we judge a person or situation can be in reality so far from what we had envisioned or thought. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover (particularly this one, because it’s not a brick and mortar store, but a mobile one, despite the US Cover).
As I was reading this, I saw a few similarities to Pride & Prejudice. In fact, it could almost be labeled a retelling of the story: nose-in-a-book girl meets and falls for charming un-honorable man, all the while girl crosses swords with curmudgeonly, respectable man, whom she inevitably falls for. For me, this a predictable read, which for something I would refer to as “brain candy” — those easy reads, it wasn’t a bad thing.
What I didn’t care for was Nina herself. The most interesting thing she did was uproot herself and risk everything to chase her dream. Apart from that, I found her annoying. She’s not a new adult, fresh out from under the apron of her parents. She’s a late twenty-something who has been living in a thriving city, but still she comes off as naive on the verge of idiocy with a personality of a wet noodle. She is flaky and whiny, pining after and chasing a one-dimensional love interest, whom she knew to have a family back home. Then, out of nowhere, all of a sudden she’s falling for the bullish and abrasive farmer / landlord, who is still embroiled in a bitter divorce battle and thus is also technically unavailable, but yet, there’s Nina.
The other thing I didn’t care for was the writing style of the author, which is kind of a big deal for me. It was as if we were privy to every stray, random, completely unrelated thought of Nina’s; a sort of verbal diarrhea. For example:
Archie briefly explained the dance to Nina.
She could have stopped there, but instead:
First of all they went around in a circle, then back in a circle. Then Nina, in the middle, had to dance with each of the boys beside her, and with the boy in the middle of the other group. They had to perform a courtly sidestep, then whirl each other around by their waists, then move back and forward. Finally they moved under the raised hands of the other group and started again with the next three they met.
It is this sort of run-on narration that does nothing to further the plot or provide any meaningful background to the story that is prevalent with this author’s style of writing. While the overly wordy internal monologue of Nina could be funny and relatable at times, mostly it was just adding to my annoyance with her as a character. And if that’s the writing style for this author, I’m not sure her style is for me as a reader.
I was hoping for a fun, girl-makes-good kind of story with interesting supporting characters, but unfortunately, while the potential was there, it fell short of the mark for me.
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