The Little Shop of Happy Ever After (by Jenny Colgan)

I’ve enjoyed the books I’ve read by Jenny Colgan: they’re usually light-weight but with interesting people, and very often with a cookery or baking theme. I was pleased to note a new one on the Bookbag site, available for review, and immediately asked if I could have it.

I loved the introduction. It explains that this is a book for readers who love books, and outlined with light humour the places where the author recommends settling down with a good book. I related strongly to the idea of reading in bed, and forgetting who is whom as I drop off to sleep; this is my usual mode.

The story itself is about Nina, a twenty-something librarian who loses her job. She’s a quiet person, not prone to adventures, who loves to work with books. She admits to a dream of having a travelling book van; then one thing leads to another, and soon Nina finds herself with a van, aiming to drive it down from Scotland to the Midlands.

A nasty incident on a railway crossing nearly causes Nina to lose everything… and she’s thrown into a new lifestyle and location with no idea whether or not her plan will be a success.

It’s a pleasant character-based story, and I found myself relating strongly to Nina at times. Some of the other people are a bit caricatured but that doesn’t matter; it makes it easy to remember who is who, even while reading in bed…

There are some lovely sub-plots. I particularly liked one involving a teenage girl who is neglected and impoverished, but who loves to read. Nina has a gift of discovering the right book for everyone, even the most reluctant of readers, and I like to think it might be possible to do this.

There’s an inevitable romantic thread running through the book too; I wasn’t so keen on this part, since one ‘hero’ turns out to be unsuitable, and I never saw the attraction of the other. The ending was a bit abrupt, too, everything falling rather too neatly into place.

Oh, and - unlike others I have read by this author - there are no recipes at the back.

Nevertheless, this made for an enjoyable few days’ reading, and I appreciated a story about such an unlikely heroine. The writing is good, the conversations mostly realistic, and I think it would make ideal holiday reading for anyone who likes light women’s fiction starring quieter people.

You can also read my slightly longer review of 'The Little Shop of Happy Ever After' at the Bookbag site.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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