The Bookshop on the Corner
I like romances with heroines who love to read. In the case of The Bookshop on the Corner, not only does the heroine love to read, the book is almost a love story about reading and the joys books can bring to people’s lives. In fact, the eventual romance – and it comes late – takes a bit of a back seat. While not without flaws, I enjoyed the book and can recommend it.
Twenty-nine year old Nina Redmond is a complete bookworm. The “lovely little library” she’s worked at in Birmingham is being closed down and moved to a centralized “media center,” and Nina and her colleagues have been fired. Nina is appalled at the direction the library is taking. She loves finding the right book for the right person, and the jobs available in the media center have nothing to do with books.
Nina is painfully shy, and only reluctantly agrees to take a team building course in order to help the newly unemployed librarians find other jobs. She hates it initially, until the instructor gets her to say that her dream is to own a little bookshop. Within days her dream evolves into the notion of a mobile bookshop run out of a van. Nina really has no idea of the legal requirements involved in running a business, let alone a mobile one – she just loves books and matching people up with the perfect book. She falls in love with the photo of a van for sale in a remote village in Scotland and heads there to check it out.
Within moments of being in the small town of Kirrinfief she feels as if she’s home. The villagers try to convince her to set up her shop in Scotland; both their bookstore and library have closed and nearly everyone in town loves to read. Nina is determined to locate her business in Birmingham, but when she runs into insurmountable legal red tape she switches plans and moves to Kirrinfief.
Ms. Colgan does a great job with Nina; within a few pages I knew her. What I couldn’t figure out was how this painfully shy, book-loving introvert would ever meet the perfect man. But once in Kirrinfief Nina quickly meets two men. Through a series of improbable circumstances she meets Marek – a train conductor – and turns him into a romantic figure despite everyone warning her against him. She also meets Lennox, the grumpy farmer who owns the property she ends up renting. While Lennox is gorgeous, he only reads farming magazines, isn’t very friendly, and isn’t officially divorced.
I can relate to Nina in so many ways; she’s virtually never book free, and she references well-loved novels throughout the story. She imagines people coming up to the van and telling her how grateful they are she’s there and that they need a book to save their life. The book is told from Nina’s PoV, and both Marek and Lennox are less well-developed.
As much as I liked Nina, there were many times I wanted to yell at her. She develops fantasies about Marek, a man she knows virtually nothing about, and begins meeting him and exchanging gifts with him. It seemed so clear to me that Lennox was interested in her, and that he was destined to be her hero, not Marek.
If you want your romances firmly grounded in reality, this idyllic romance probably isn’t for you. It’s true that Nina does some really stupid things on the way to her happy ending, but overall, The Bookshop on the Corner made me happy, and felt a bit like a love letter to book lovers.