Reading How to Find Love in a Book Shop by Veronica Henry was a lovely way to spend a cold Autumn day, tucked up all warm and comfy with chocolates at my fingertips. This book is clearly aimed at female readers who enjoy light romance.
The story starts with Emilia Nightingale, a woman in her thirties sitting by her dearly-loved father’s side in hospital as he lies dying. This story could have gone downhill from such a sad starting point, however Emilia is a generous character who is loved and respected in the tiny village where her father Julius has ran Nightingale Books since she was a baby.
The other main characters are similar to Emilia in that they are generous, loving, kind, worthy people, whose flaws seem charming, even though some are adulterers and others are thieves, who behave as stupidly and selfishly on occasion as real people. There are also characters whose bad behaviours seriously impact on other main character’s lives. Despite this, they were all so lovely that I wanted to sell up and move to this fictional village with Nightingale Books at its heart.
The book shop attracts all sorts of customers, including Sarah, a married woman who secretly loved and was loved by Julius for many years. Somehow this relationship didn’t come off as tawdry in any way, instead I felt sympathetic towards Julius and Sarah.
Sarah’s daughter Alice also has her own storyline, as she is loved by someone who works for her mother, a genuinely good bloke, however she is engaged to a complete tosser. Unfortunately Alice married the tosser before discovering something about him she could not live with, but this being fiction, Alice kicked the tosser out of their wedding reception and told him to arrange an annulment, then told her guests to kick on and enjoy the party while she took off to find the good bloke.
Another character is terribly shy, but has a thing for the fellow in the village cheesemongers shop (luckily, the shy character is a cook who loves cheese too), while another character was a model in the Swinging Sixties and was romantically scarred for life by a fling with a charismatic actor way back in the day.
Emilia has her own romance, which didn’t interest me as much as the solutions she found for the book shop’s various problems. The issues included the business losing money, a failing roof, dirty and dusty contents, and the books not being set out in a way where anybody could find anything in a hurry. Conveniently, Emilia makes friends with a customer who used to work at a house and style magazine who takes on the job of making the book shop look attractive with a new logo, a café and creating little rooms for each section (crime has a comfy chair in front of the fireplace and cookery has a butcher’s block and cake stands).
I expect I will read other novels by Veronica Henry in future, for the pleasure of being immersed in a lovely world where every town has a book shop and delightful characters whose problems are dealt with in ways that would never happen in real life.