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The Bookshop on the Corner


The Bookshop on the Corner

Nina Redmond loves all things books. She is a librarian in the busy English city of Birmingham. Other than to her fellow librarians and her roommate, she is inclined away from (not toward) conversation, which could bring on public embarrassment, tears or other displays of emotion. She would much rather have her nose planted firmly in a book, whether she’s commuting, at lunch or at home. In fact, she has lugged so many books home over the years that they are stacked in precarious towers all over her row house, to the chagrin and irritation of her roommate, Surinder.

But Nina’s library is closing, she discovers to her utter dismay. Most of the jobs that employ Nina and her fellow librarians are being eliminated, save for a couple of people who will be hired to work at the new media hub, which won’t be about books at all. It will be about computers, a coffee shop and team-building --- fresh, new and shiny. Despite the fact that Nina will be applying for one of those two jobs, they don’t really suit her at all.

"A baby bird probably thinks the world is about to end when its mama bird nudges it out of the nest. After all, that cozy, protected, safe little world is all that it has ever known. But once it’s out of the nest, amazingly it flies.... THE BOOKSHOP ON THE CORNER is not to be missed."

So the library closure begins. Books are sold for 10 pence apiece. One afternoon, Nina’s boss announces that two waste collection trucks will arrive to take all the remaining books (she’s seemingly unaware that all those leftover reads will never fit in two trucks). This horrifies Nina so much that she fits as many of those books as she can into her Mini and takes them home. However, she’s not as horrified as Surinder, who is afraid that what’s already there is going to collapse the ancient joists of the row house; there is no way she’s going to allow one more single heavy book over the threshold.

Nina has a dilemma. Whether they’re old and tattered, brand-new and never read, or something in between, she must save all of those gorgeous, beloved books. She can’t keep them in her house, which is already so packed with books, and she absolutely cannot allow them to go to the dump. There is, admittedly, nothing she can see to do with them.

Except for that tiny little thought, the secret wish that she has cherished, but that hardly looks as if it could withstand the harsh light of reality. Timid, withdrawn, introverted Nina wants to own a small bookstore of her very own.

When that dream finally ventures out into the light (at the team-building exercise held for the library employees before their next set of job interviews), it almost appears that it can’t. Her friend and co-worker, Griffin, dismisses it immediately. But the team-building instructor, Mungo (who has overcome challenges of his own), thoughtfully listens as Nina details all the reasons why she couldn’t run a bookshop of her own. Yet Mungo mentions that there are those who run shops that aren’t permanently housed in one place, like the woman who sells books from a barge on the river, or the baker who sells her wares from a van. For Nina, the incredulity she experiences is mixed with something that feels a whole lot like hope. She does, after all, have enough books to fill a bookstore many times over stacked around her home. She’ll have a little unemployment money, and she can always sell her car for startup costs. Now all she needs to do is find that mobile vehicle --- one that’s available, in her price range, and will be big enough to house a variety of books.

And she finds one! It’s so old it’s now retro, it used to carry bread, and it’s the perfect size. But it’s miles away in Scotland. Suddenly, Nina’s dream has wings...and she’s about to totter out of the nest.

A baby bird probably thinks the world is about to end when its mama bird nudges it out of the nest. After all, that cozy, protected, safe little world is all that it has ever known. But once it’s out of the nest, amazingly it flies. And the small world the bird once inhabited is replaced by a huge, messy, beautiful one --- with wings that can carry it anywhere. Nina’s small life is about to be replaced with a larger one she can’t imagine --- with unusual friendships, treasured work, and a couple of men who are almost like the rich characters she has loved in books for so long. And it even has a little Russian poetry! THE BOOKSHOP ON THE CORNER is not to be missed.

Audiobook available, read by Lucy Price-Lewis

Reviewed by Melanie Reynolds on September 23, 2016

The Bookshop on the Corner
by Jenny Colgan

  • Publication Date: September 20, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0062467255
  • ISBN-13: 9780062467256