The Bookshop on the Corner is lovely, even if the name doesn’t quite fit. The main character’s bookshop is too unique to be that simplistically summed up.
I should mention that this isn’t a romance, but there is a significant romance in the book—it just doesn’t really get going right away. So it doesn’t follow the traditional course of a romance novel, even if it does start off with a major problem for the heroine.
Nina Redmond is a librarian passionate about her job—she adores the matchmaking process of finding the right book for the right person. So it’s pretty devastating when she’s laid off. She doesn’t have a lot of options because the library system in Birmingham (that would be the one in England) doesn’t care about books anymore. They’re trying to cater to the younger crowd and focus on different media. The library offers all the staff made redundant a team-building/career training and during the training, Nina admits to always wanting to own a bookshop. Somehow this idea warps into owning a mobile bookshop.
Despite her friends’ reservations, Nina seeks out a van, finding one in Kirrinfief, a village up in the Highlands in Scotland, that looks perfect and affordable. She travels there and the owner of the van balks when he sees she’s “just a tiny woman,” someone he can’t envision driving his van. She goes back to Birmingham downtrodden and van-less, only to find out that a couple of the men she met at the local pub before meeting the van’s owner have offered to buy it from him and sell it to her. Everything seems great—until she can’t obtain the permits she’d need to park the van on her street in Birmingham. So she makes another decision that surprises everybody: she moves to Kirrinfief. She’s lucky enough to find a lovely modernized barn apartment on Lennox Farms, which is run by a gruff farmer (that would be Lennox himself).
Nina meets a variety of people through an early mishap involving a deer, her van, and a train and through her work, which goes pretty well. There’s a love interest in Marek, a lonely Latvian train driver, before Lennox really comes on scene for the main course. Nina’s life seems to be turning around. A lot of things are going well, but there are still a few challenges she has to face.
As I implied earlier, it’s a charming book. The setting of the Scottish Highlands is wonderful and so well-drawn. Colgan puts in just enough of the local flavor to give us the sound of the language with her ayes, coudlnaes, disnaes, an occasional Scots word, and even some overheard Gaelic, all without overdoing it. She paints the rural countryside and farm colorfully, too. It all made me miss being there.
The characters are all excellent and highly distinctive. Nina herself is so likable and relatable. She’s shy but got a streak of bold buried in her. Her best friend Surinder is entertaining. Marek is interesting and Lennox is intriguing from the beginning, even before I was sure he’d be a love interest. There are a few stereotypes among the secondary characters, but Colgan’s populated a whole town, so it’s all in fun. My favorite was the sullen teenager who Nina befriends.
I was not familiar with Colgan before this book, but I can say I’m definitely likely to read another one by her when I’m looking for something feel-good. I can recommend it to anyone who likes a complicated love story, hearing about books, or reading about rural Scotland.