Nightingale Books, nestled on the high street in the idyllic Cotswold town of Peasebrook, is a dream come true for booklovers.
But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open. The temptation to sell up is proving enormous – but what about the promise she made to her father? Not to mention the loyalty she owes to her customers.
Sarah Basildon, owner of stately pile Peasebrook Manor, has used the book shop as an escape from all her problems in the past few years. But is there more to her visits than meets the eye?
Since messing up his marriage, Jackson asks Emilia for advice on books to read to the son he misses so much. But Jackson has a secret, and is not all he seems…
And there’s Thomasina, painfully shy, who runs a pop-up restaurant from her tiny cottage. She has a huge crush on a man she met and then lost in the cookery section, somewhere between Auguste Escoffier and Marco Pierre White. Can she find the courage to admit her true feelings? (Goodreads)A novel I’m sure all book lovers can relate to, How to Find Love in a Book Shop by Veronica Henry brings together all manners of people, united by their common love of literature.
Beginning with the sad death of her father, Julius, Emilia has the book shop, Nightingale Books, thrust upon her young shoulders. He opened the store in the small Oxfordshire town of Peasebrook after the loss of Emilia’s mother, and has been providing the residents with both books and advice for almost thirty years. The shop has become more of an institution than a retail outlet, with Julius lending a friendly ear to all who needed him. Emilia has no idea whether she can continue his legacy, or even if she wants to spend the rest of her life in Peasebrook.
Feeling that she owes it to her father to at least try, it soon becomes clear that the shop is facing financial difficulties, as her father had been relying on loans and overdrafts to pay his staff and was not paying his suppliers either. Local developer Ian is desperate to get his hands on the store for the property potential, and with Julius out the way he is convinced that he can get Emilia to sell, especially if the store is facing money troubles. He underestimates the value the shop holds for the residents, and the fact that the local community would hate to see their beloved book shop go.
As Emilia gets to know the customers, it becomes apparent that she has her father’s skill for listening and problem solving, encouraging people to open up without even trying. She soon spots those who need that extra bit of help to approach their certain someone, but will Emilia be able to find her own happiness whilst aiding everyone else?
I really enjoyed how Henry uses the book shop as a place of joy and comfort, as it’s something that all book lovers can relate to. The joy of finding a book that perfectly fits your mood or situation is what drives this book, and I was always intrigued by what Emilia would suggest next for the individuals of Peasebrook. We meet a wide array of people, from the owners of the country estate to someone who works in the local cheese shop, with each one finding love throughout the course of the novel. It had a feel-good feeling at the heart of the every chapter, making this a joy to read. I won’t go into too much detail on each character, but all are likeable people and I think we all know someone like them in our own lives, capturing a community perfectly.
I found that I liked Emilia as a protagonist, as she has been travelling and knows something of the world, even though she is still too young to have experienced a lot of it. There is the sense that she has a wise head on her shoulders, and is not one to make rash decisions. She is understandably devastated at the loss of her father, and will do whatever she can to preserve his memory. I think my only disappointment is that I don’t feel we really know her by the end of the book, as we see her help everyone else and not really have time to expand on her own character. I thought that her conclusion felt slightly weak compared to everyone else’s, despite following the happier trends found within the pages.
I think the best developed plotline within the book was that of Dillon, the groundskeeper at the country estate, as he does his best to look out for the heiress’s best interests. He admires Alice from afar and is besieged by the awareness that she is above his station, looked down upon by her fiancé, who thinks money is the answer to everything. I just really enjoyed the turns this particular plot took, and thought that the characters were developed really well, as both Dillon and Alice are relatable individuals. What’s even more interesting is the book that brings them together – but you’ll have to find that one out for yourself!
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the entire concept of a book shop bringing a community together. It cleverly uses a wide variety of characters and personas, with the chapters complementing each other perfectly. The books are carefully chosen throughout, with most being common titles that we can all take something from. There are also some inspired choices to fuel your own reading, and I look forward to increasing my TBR pile accordingly. Although I might have been disappointed with the way Emilia’s story was developed, I still thought this book a pleasure to read and would recommend to all book shop lovers, giving a solid 3.5 star rating.