Review: Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan

Zoe is a single mother, sinking beneath the waves trying to cope by herself in London. Hari, her gorgeous little boy is perfect in every way – except for the fact that he just doesn’t speak, at all. When her landlord raises the rent on her flat, Zoe doesn’t know where to turn.

Then Hari’s aunt suggests Zoe could move to Scotland to help run a bookshop. Going from the lonely city to a small village in the Highlands could be the change Zoe and Hari desperately need.

Faced with an unwelcoming boss, a moody, distant bookseller named Ramsay Urquart, and a band of unruly children, Zoe wonders if she’s made the right decision. But Hari has found his very first real friend, and no one could resist the beauty of the loch glinting in the summer sun. If only Ramsay would just be a little more approachable…

I have mixed feelings about this one. Jenny Colgan is one of my go to authors on those odd occasions I fancy a light romantic read. I did enjoy it, however I didn’t feel that this lived up the standard of some of her previous books.

Not all of the character felt properly fleshed out, although the children particularly Hari and Patrick shone with life ( Hari’s age did seem to fluctuate a bit with him sometimes seeming older or younger than his stated 4 years though).

With Hari being non verbal I would have expected descriptions of Zoe using basic sign language with him, but past mentions of him pointing at his mouth when he was hungry there didn’t really seem to be a way for Hari to communicate with Zoe other than her just ‘knowing’.

There seemed to be a lot more ‘issues’ in this than other books by Colgan, maternal abandonment, drug use, self harm, selective mutism, poverty, absent fathers. It was a lot to cover off in a meaningful way and I think as a result some of it didn’t get the consideration it perhaps needed.

Also I don’t feel that Zoe needed a romance, just finding her feet in Scotland and becoming happy and independent would have been enough, the little romance there was felt rather unreal and rushed, rather than more organic as it usually is in Jenny Colgan’s books.

There were some elements I did like. Zoe leaving Hari at nursery for the first time rang very true. The descriptions of the Scottish countryside were lovely and really invoked a sense of place. I really loved the evil chicken, there should have been more evil chicken.

Overall it felt more like a draft than a completed novel.

I received a copy of Bookshop on the Shore in exchange for an honest review. With thanks to Little, Brown Book Group UK and Netgalley.

Bookshop on the Shore is available now.

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