I will admit, I chose this book to listen to because it was set in the UK, and largely in Scotland, and I was really missing the green wide open spaces of Scotland and the beautiful accents of the people who live there. It turned out to be the perfect solution, though now that I’m done, I want to go back to Scotland more than anything. So be warned: it is only a temporary solution if you are a Scots-ophile like me. This was the second book by Jenny Colgan that I’ve read. I love her contemplative storytelling style. The plot is not fast-paced but the characters are well developed and the setting vibrant.
I want to mention that one of the absolute best things about this book is the dedication at the beginning. It’s long and I want you to get to read it for yourself, but please make sure you read it. Here’s a teaser:
There is no dedication in this book because the entire book is dedicated to you: the reader. To all readers.
This book follows the story of Nina, a quiet and “by the rules” librarian living in bustling Birmingham (city) whose life is turned upside down when she loses her library job and, in a spur-of-the-moment idea, ends up buying a van to turn into a mobile bookshop and ultimately relocating to the small Scottish town from which she bought said van. I won’t say more because I don’t want to ruin the whole plot.
This book has a soft and lyrical pace, and is not full of twisty plot turns or anything like that. But there is wonderful character development and many of the characters are more than they seem, and I liked that. I also just loved the descriptions of the way of life in a small Scottish highland town, including the work of farming and the different celebrations and festivals during the year. I loved the main character, Nina, who has the soul of a poet and has not realized how much she longs for wide open spaces and freedom. I could relate to her for sure. I also–for the most part–liked the romantic involvements. There are two men, one a dreamy-eyed train conductor and one a stern/grumpy/taciturn farmer. Of course, I tend to go for the gruff men who do more than they say, so I loved the farmer. I thought a lot of Nina’s reactions emotionally were true to her character, and it all played out in a way that made sense.
A few of the side characters were a bit more caricature-like and less realistic, especially the farmer Lennox’s ex-wife who takes spoiled brat to a whole new level. Also, if (almost) adultery/cheating bothers you, then you might not like the book as much as I do. The book in no way condones cheating, but it does deal with it, and it may frustrate some.
The audio — by Lucy Price-Lewis — is really well done. I loved her voice and her accents for the various characters. It allowed me to get even more swept up in the setting!
Overall, this is a sweet and satisfying contemporary read set in Scotland with a pretty great romance within. It’s not fast-moving but it is thoughtful and I loved the characters. I’m looking forward to reading more by Jenny Colgan.