Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Veronica Henry - How to Find Love in a Bookshop

Nightingale Books, nestled on the main street in an idyllic little village, is a dream come true for book lovers--a cozy haven and welcoming getaway for the literary-minded locals. But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open after her beloved father's death, and the temptation to sell is getting stronger. The property developers are circling, yet Emilia's loyal customers have become like family, and she can't imagine breaking the promise she made to her father to keep the store alive.
There's Sarah, owner of the stately Peasebrook Manor, who has used the bookshop as an escape in the past few years, but it now seems there's a very specific reason for all those frequent visits. Next is roguish Jackson, who, after making a complete mess of his marriage, now looks to Emilia for advice on books for the son he misses so much. And the forever shy Thomasina, who runs a pop-up restaurant for two in her tiny cottage--she has a crush on a man she met in the cookbook section, but can hardly dream of working up the courage to admit her true feelings.
Enter the world of Nightingale Books for a serving of romance, long-held secrets, and unexpected hopes for the future--and not just within the pages on the shelves. How to Find Love in a Bookshop is the delightful story of Emilia, the unforgettable cast of customers whose lives she has touched, and the books they all cherish.

Comment: I got this book last year, I think, at a book fair I annually attend. Like certainly most readers, I feel curiosity about books revolving around a bookstore and any possible book talk. Having also seen some friends have liked it, I decided to give it a go.

In this story we meet Emilia Nightingale, who returns to her small hometown of Peasebrook, in England, after working in Asia for some time. She returned because her father got ill and eventually died so now the bookstore is hers. Despite loving the bookstore a lot, she knows its soul was because of her father and she is struggling to think of the store without him in there. Plus, she discovers that something needs to be done in order for the bookstore not to close since things were not as financially viable as she thought. Among several secondary characters and their own stories, will it be possible for the bookstore to remain the most special bookstore everyone loves?

I had a great time reading this novel. Sweet and comforting are adjectives that come to mind thinking on it and I must say that it impressed me a lot more than the previous book by this author I had read, which was boring and not that amazing to me. Looking at average ratings, I suppose this is the book most readers have liked... I guess I'll have to read another, just to confirm if I like or don't like this author's style.

The story is focused on Emilia and the supporting characters somehow connected to the bookstore and her father. The narrator is third person but we get to see the POV of several characters, as well as get hints of others by how they interact. All the characters we come to like have something special about them and all provide something to enrich the plot. I think all were simply drawn but there is something
about each one, some complexity of their personality that made them special. In fact, looking at the whole cast, Emilia isn't even the one I liked the best but her path towards the end was a cute one.

The bookstore is in trouble and at first it might seem the problems can't be easily solved but when a solution comes, it's quite fitting.We're supposed to appreciate how the challenges help the characters become better people but it felt as if more than just that. The characters have the clues in front of them, we as readers can see where they are supposed to go but the road until then is what makes this story adorable. Except for the obvious antagonists, I have to say I ended up caring for all the characters.

Portuguese cover
This was a nice surprise, I thought that the style of the author, she sort of presents things as a given, there aren't many scenes fully developed, it's more like something needs to happen, we see the beginning and then the next chapter or the next paragraph other things have already happened and we jump to the next thing.  It's not as if this is always bad, but there are certainly ways to do it. Comparing the two books I read already by the author, this tactic worked out a lot better in this book, perhaps because these characters felt a lot more captivating and I liked them more too.

I'm aware not all readers of this book have the same general impression. For some there are too many characters, for others not enough talk about books, for others needless drama, the difficulties were too easily gotten over for every character... while these things are all true, the union of the parts made for a cute story. I actually liked less how Emilia's father came to open the bookstore, we have this at the beginning of the book and the feel I got was that this would go into over the top drama but, thankfully for me, it wasn't so and the story was quite adorable.

All things considered, this might not have been the best book ever, but it was sweet and entertaining and I liked how it made me feel.

Grade: 8/10

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