Nightingale Books, in the little country town of Peasebrook in the Cotswolds, is well-loved by residents. But owner, Emilia Nightingale, is struggling to honour the death-bed promise she made to her father to keep it open.
How to Find Love in a Bookshop follows the story of Emilia and some of the store’s customers as they struggle with their own challenges. Sarah Basildon, owner of Peasebrook Manor, is struggling to cope with the death of her lover. Jackson is trying to reconnect with his son and estranged wife. Thomasina is trying to gather the courage to ask out the local cheesemonger. Young mother Bea is finding that motherhood is not as glamourous as she wishes and local gardener, Dillon, is in love with his employer’s daughter who is engaged to marry another man.
The many characters in this novel weave in and out of each other’s stories but surprisingly, it’s not difficult to keep track of who’s who. Emilia is a likeable, well-connected protagonist who has the residents of Peasebrook going out of their way to help her and, fortunately, several have plenty of leisure time and surprisingly convenient skills when it comes to rebuilding, reinventing and relaunching a book shop. Marlowe, the nauseatingly well-rounded renaissance man – who plays the violin, knows wine, is personable and clever (developing fiendishly difficult questions for the local pub quiz), loves knitwear, and has a six-pack – offers plenty of emotional support, while the employee of the scheming developer turns out to be quite the handyman.
Indeed, the town of Peasebrook has unnaturally well-read residents with rather literary tastes – the five-year-old is reading Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince at one stage – and everyone is quite pleasant. Even the slick developer, desperate to turn the book shop site into a carpark, turns out to be quite reasonable.
Despite being sentimental and sanguine, How to Find Love in a Bookshop is a cosy read – much like the cashmere sweaters worn by the heroine and her love interest. It’s like a movie that you think you might have seen before but will probably watch again (even with ads) because you know everything’s going to work out in the end.
How to Find Love in a Bookshop is a light-hearted feel-good read, suitable for the sentimental among us.