Thursday, September 24, 2020

The Bookshop on the Corner - Jenny Colgan


Seldom have I been left with such mixed emotions about a book as I have by Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Corner (perhaps published as Little Shop of Happily Ever After in the UK). I absolutely loved and enjoyed about one-third of the book, and I was pretty much bored with the other cliché-filled two-thirds of it. This is the first title I’ve read by Jenny Colgan, but a quick review of her backlist leads me to believe that she discovered a successful book-selling formula years ago and that she intends to milk it as long as it continues to work for her. Granted, I am not the target audience for a Jenny Colgan book; I know that now, so my reaction to this one is as much my fault as it is hers. Luckily enough, however, I “read” this one via its audiobook version, and Lucy Price-Lewis, the narrator, has such a charming voice and way about her that I continued listening almost despite myself. 

The basic premise of The Bookshop on the Corner is that the rampant library-closings in the UK have finally put Nina Redmond out of the only job she has ever wanted to have. She loves her work as a front-line librarian, and she is very, very good at perfectly matching library patrons to books they are certain to enjoy. Now, even though she is being given the opportunity to interview for a different kind of library position – a backroom job that would isolate her from patrons – Nina is not at all sure that she wants the job even if it’s offered to her. And then, she has a brilliant idea. 

Why not open that bookstore she’s dreamed about owning all of her life? Of course, she has no money, can’t possibly come up with the rent on a shop, and after selling on all the books her library is now discarding, she has no idea how she would even restock the shop. Nina solves the money-problem by deciding to open up a mobile-bookstore housed inside a large van. So now, the only problem is that the only old van she can afford is located somewhere in remote Scotland – a long way from Birmingham, especially for a tiny young woman who has never driven anything that big in her life. 

To this point, and then as Nina worked on setting-up shop, I was totally on board with The Bookshop on the Corner. But then the book turned into a formulaic romance novel filled with exactly the characters that come in that recipe. I still had two-thirds of the book to go, and I could already predict (with near-perfect accuracy, as it turned out) how it was going to proceed all the way to the end. (And don’t even get me started on those awful “hot” love scenes.) 

Bottom Line: The Bookshop on the Corner was a disappointment to me because of Colgan’s failure to sustain the book’s strong start through to the end. I don’t do star-ratings, but if I did, this one would get two stars on a generous day, and I would throw in an extra one because of Lucy Price-Lewis’s narration. Romance fans are certain to disagree with me on this one – so I’ll just call The Bookshop on the Corner a learning-experience.

Jenny Colgan
Lucy Price-Lewis

17 comments:

  1. I recently read this. I didn't have the strong reactions that you did, though I did enjoy the concept. The first part of the book was okay, but I promptly forgot the rest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally enjoyed the first half of the book, Pat. It was almost like it was written by two different people, though.

      Delete
  2. My book club just had the yearly meeting where we pick the books for the next 12 months. This book was one of the options, and now I’m glad it didn’t make the cut.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Y'all lucked-out, Annie. The romance part - other than the cliché-ridden sex scenes - reads like a 12-year-old's idea of a romance. Awful.

      Delete
  3. I also read the sequel and wish there had been more bookselling and less sappiness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CLM, "sappiness" is a good way to describe the second half of this one. If not for the audiobook narrator, this one would have most definitely ended up on my "Abandoned" list.

      Delete
  4. Thanks to you, I'm going to give this one a pass. It sounds as though, if I read it, I'd do myself an injury from all my eye-rolling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha...I still have a headache from doing precisely that before I finished this one, Cathy.

      Delete
  5. So, I take it romances aren't your thing. ;D I actually really liked this one, but then I'm a sucker for happy endings and romance...even predictable ones. Plus, it's set in Scotland! And I always love that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel the same about books set in Scotland, Lark. And you know how much I enjoy books set in bookstores or libraries...but this one should have come with a "Romance" warning label. LOL

      Delete
  6. Uh oh. Romance is not my thing either. I don't mind the kind of romance that shows attraction as a minor part of the story, but not the kind that becomes the story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here, Jen. I can manage books where a rather silly romance is just part of the background or an indicator of the depth of a character, etc. But 175 pages of that, almost nonstop, was enough to make me question my sanity.

      Delete
  7. The premise sounds like a joy to read about but, the romance aspect not so much. Too bad Sam.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The main problem is that the romance/s dominated the second half of the book to such a degree that the bookshop was barely mentioned. It became little more than another place to have the characters talk about other things.

      Delete
  8. I've read a couple of Jenny Colgan's books and that was enough. I don't mind romance books occasionally but there was something a bit lacking in the writing. Heart? I think you may have hit the nail on the head about her finding a formula and sticking to it. 'Really' sticking to it! And yet other authors do that and I don't mind. It a shame because the bookish theme of this one is appealing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I probably should have done a little research on the author and her other books before I started this one, but from the book's own description it sounded like another good book about a bookstore - and I admit to loving that particular formula a lot.

      Delete