Given a back-room computer job when the beloved Birmingham library she works in turns into a downsized retail complex, Nina misses her old role terribly – dealing with people, greeting her regulars, making sure everyone gets the right books for their needs. Then a new business nobody else wants catches her eye: owning a tiny little bookshop bus up in the Scottish highlands. No computers. Shortages. Out all hours in the freezing cold; driving with a tiny stock of books… not to mention how the little community is going to take to her, particularly when she stalls the bus on a level crossing…
I don’t normally like British ‘chick-lit’ (and oh, how I despise that term as well) – there’s something about the tone of it that just annoys me no end. But Jenny Colgan’s writing worked wonderfully for me, and I found myself really enjoying this book. It’s pure escapism, but not overly fluffy or idealized – the author incorporated serious issues that aren’t glossed over – the realities of struggling small businesses, the dodgy weather, cultural misunderstandings, problematic people, imminent uselessness in a world that has modernised and made certain jobs redundant.
“I think you’ve found what you should be doing, where you should be doing it. And most people don’t get that.”
But oh, how we’d all love to run a small bookshop out of a van in the gorgeous landscape of Scotland, yes?
“But they can’t set people up with the right novels! They don’t know what a nine-year-old needs to read after Harry Potter.”
“The Knife of Never Letting Go,” said Nina automatically.
This book was the ultimate comfort-read, and what a comfort read it was. The romance is very much a slow-build, as the majority of the book focuses on Nina’s struggles to set up her fledgling business, and her personal development as she comes out of her shell and takes risks she’d never dream of.
Lennox looked appalled. “He’s a dog, not a doggie. He’s a professional working farm dog. Very valuable, too.”
“So does he have a name, or just a bar code?”
The descriptions of the Scottish scenery were excellently done – I could smell the crisp fresh air, witness the sunsets, the rolling hills, the bustling little town – oh, this book will transport you!
In Nina’s experience, the more sensible dressed the person, the more unutterably depraved they liked their fiction; no doubt there was a cosmic balance in it somewhere.
Nina’s appreciation for the written word is tangible – this is a book for book lovers, who will find themselves identifying with some of her literary opinions. Finally, the gentle humour and snark which infuses the novel is spot-on, and provides welcome relief from some of the more serious moments.
“A deer?” said Lennox incredulously. “Can’t get rid of the buggers.”
“But did you see how lovely it was?”
“Bloody protected species,” said Lennox.