Prather’s Pick: A novel with a Scottish setting
“The Bookshop on the Shore,” a novel written by Jenny Colgan, is absolutely enchanting. I found the book, with new books, at the Craig Library, and I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to look for more books written by the author.
This is a feel-good book set in Scotland. The leading character, a 28-year-old woman, Zoe, is raising her 4-year-old son Hari by herself. His father, Jaz, is a DJ who cannot provide either emotional or financial support for Hari. The little boy has been diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder, and as a result, he has not spoken a word yet. Doctors say he will talk when he’s ready.
Zoe is a bright woman who worked in a “posh” nursery, but she hasn’t been able to make enough money to support Hari and herself. As the novel opens, Zoe is faced with a rent “reappraisal.” She knows this means that the landowner wants her out of the London apartment, which isn’t all that great anyway.
What to do? Then Surinder, Jaz’s sister, finds a job for Zoe — in fact, two of them. The first is to help her friend, Nina, who is pregnant, with a rather special bookstore, a van that moves around on the banks of Loch Ness. The second is to work as an au pair (nanny) for Ramsay Urquart’s three children: Patrick, 5; Mary, 9; and Shackleton. The family lives in a castle in the Scottish Highlands.
Mrs. MacGlone, the housekeeper, says the children are “tiny little wolves.” They are not allowed to attend school anymore. They call Zoe “Nanny Number Seven” which is a hint as to how challenging it is to be in charge of them. Mrs. MacGlone barely handles the daily cleaning and does not cook. In fact, there is not a lot of food in the house and no money, either. What happened to the children’s mother is a mystery.
The castle home is closed up, dark, and cluttered. Zoe finds Ramsay’s library, an interesting room that is off limits to everyone except Ramsay. It plays a big part in the novel’s plot. The bedrooms are up four flights of stairs. In short, it is an intriguing home, to say the least.
When Zoe goes to her other job she finds a vintage old van that’s painted a pale blue. Inside, on blue shelves, are two sections of books — fiction and nonfiction. There are some bright cushions and a tiny table in one corner —just for children. The bookstore even has Persian rugs and a chandelier.
It isn’t long before Zoe and Hari are settled into their new home and life is changing for the Urquart family as well. Then Jaz shows up. This is an absolutely delightful novel with a feel-good ending.
The hardcover book, published by William Morrow Books (2019), costs $26.99 in hardcover. You can also find it at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries.