Popsugar Reading Challenge 2020 – Book 20

Prompt: A book with a bird on the cover

The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan was the My Book Moment choice for May. And it has silhouettes if birds on the cover so that was enough easy choice made.

What it’s about?

From Goodreads:

A grand baronial house on Loch Ness, a quirky small-town bookseller, and a single mom looking for a fresh start all come together in this witty and warm-hearted novel by New York Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan.

Desperate to escape from London, single mother Zoe wants to build a new life for herself and her son Hari. She can barely afford the crammed studio apartment on a busy street where honking horns and shouting football fans keep them awake all night. If she doesn’t find a way out soon, Zoe knows it’s just a matter of time before she has a complete meltdown. On a whim, she answers an ad for a nanny job in the Scottish Highlands, which is about as far away from the urban crush of London as possible. It sounds heavenly!

The job description asks for someone capable of caring for three “gifted children”, two of which behave like feral wolverines. The children’s widowed father is a wreck, and the kids run wild in a huge tumbledown castle on the heather-strewn banks of Loch Ness. Still, the peaceful, picturesque location is everything London is not—and Zoe rises to the challenges of the job.

With the help of Nina, the friendly local bookseller, Zoe begins to put down roots in the community. Are books, fresh air, and kindness enough to heal this broken family—and her own…?

What I think:

This is a fantastic feel good book that doesn’t shy away from some gritty real life themes.

Zoe is a struggling single mum, living in a bed sit. Her wages are taken up with child care, her clothes come from charity shops and every penny is budgeted. A rent increase effectively makes her homeless.

In Scotland, Zoe has the opportunity to help run a small, mobile bookshop and work as a nanny with free accommodation she takes it.

I really feel for Zoe throughout the book. She is bright, friendly and hardworking, but circumstances mean she is struggling and desperately lonely. I imagine there are a lot of young women in big cities in similar situations.

Her relationship with her 4 year old son is lovely. She does every thing for him but he doesn’t speak. The scenes in the doctors as Zoe desperately tries to help Hari are really poignant.

So far this all sounds very serious but the book is so humourous. Zoe has a great sense of humour and is always looking on the brightside.

Slowly and surely she starts to make friends, build relationships with Urquart children and transform the gloomy mansion.

This is such a funny and heart warming book. The children’s characters develop fantastically Nanny McPhee style. Hari blossoms in Scotland even though he remains silent. Patrick is hilarious and Shackleton amd Mary start to make friends and accept who they are.

Ramsay Urquart emerges as a sensitive and private man, and the details of the past are quite heartbreaking.

I really enjoyed this book. The characters are great and the setting is beautiful – definitely makes you want to visit the Scottish Highlands.

You can order The Bookshop on the Shore from:

Waterstones: click here

Amazon.co.uk: click here

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