To celebrate Independent Booksellers Week, I am delighted to stop off on the blog tour for Veronica Henry's latest novel, How To Find Love In A Bookshop. You can also scroll down to read my feature about my favourite bookshop, Blackbird Books, Navan, Co. Meath.
Emilia has spent her whole life surrounded by books. Nightingale Books opened not long after her birth and was her father's pride and joy. Upon his death, she discovers he had hidden debts and not a chance of profit in sight. She can't see how she can keep it open and finally admits that she may have to sell the Cotswold's shop to a local property developer. However, she knows her father would turn in his grave at the thought and she is determined to do everything in her power to maintain his legacy.
There are also a few locals who have their own reasons for wanting Nightingale Books to remain open. Sarah links it with her big secret, Thomasina credits it with her love of cooking and Jackson has ulterior motives. When a bookshop is more than just bricks and mortar it can motivate people in a powerful way. But is it too late for Nightingale Books? Without money how can Emilia keep things afloat?
This is the thirteenth novel from UK author, Veronica Henry, yet the first I have read. Sometimes you just want a book to relax with, draw you in to the characters lives and make you feel like you've been given a rather large hug from an old friend. This is a book that does just that.
Emilia's father had brought her up as a young, single-parent and managed to instill a love of books within her soul. His death leaves an aching gap in more than his daughter's life though, as he was loved by the whole rural community. As Emilia comes to terms with her loss, her neighbours deal with their own grief. A financial burden, the shop is a non-viable entity, yet is is so much more than a bookshop to many locals. The characters cross each others paths throughout the novel and a bigger picture starts to emerge. Emilia needs to make some tough decisions and yet she has inherited her father's generous spirit. It is a huge undertaking for a young woman and she needs to find her way in life. The author writes with a smooth and easy style and each chapter leads gently into the next. A light, pleasurable novel, with some character-recommended reading lists dotted throughout, it is a little bit of escapism that you will not put too far from hand once you've started. Unashamedly commercial fiction, How To Find Love In A Bookshop is the equivalent of going for dinner in your favourite, family-run restaurant. You know what you're going to get, the familiarity is welcoming and the sense of fulfillment as you leave is wonderfully satisfying. It was gratifying enough for me to go out and buy another of the author's titles...
How To Find Love In A Bookshop is published by Orion Books and is available in HB and ebook format.
MY FAVOURITE INDEPENDENT BOOKSHOP
BLACKBIRD BOOKS, NAVAN, CO. MEATH.
Blackbird Books opened the doors of their store in April 2015. Owned and run by husband and wife team, Shane and Lorraine, it is a haven nestled withing the cobbled streets of the historical town of Navan, Co. Meath. Both Shane and Lorraine took a huge chance embarking on their venture, as Ireland struggled to regain momentum following a dreadful recession. Their love of literature dismissed any doubts and luckily they took a chance. A small but carefully selected range of books are available in store and the staff are more than willing to order in any titles that are not in stock. I have been known to tweet Shane, at ridiculously unsociable hours, with my latest request.
The ground floor of Blackbird books is entered via a small door and opens up onto the ground floor, where there is a children's nook complete with wooden dolls house and pint-sized table and chairs. There is always a stash of colouring sheets and crayons available and an array of beautiful titles (English and Irish language) to purchase. Local authors have been known to entertain the children with readings and lauches and I witnesses some fine ninja-style warriors myself!
|Shane, Lorraine and Booker Prize winner Ben Okri.|
Upstairs, there is a further seating area, but also selves and shelves of second hand titles. I have discovered some real gems here; early edition penguin classics (the orange ones, which I collect), stunning coffee table books and non-fiction titles I could not normally afford. It is virtually impossible to leave the first floor empty-handed. Be warned!
Shane and Lorraine also hold many bookish events at Blackbird Books. Readings, signings, poetry and music nights... The atmosphere is relaxed and everyone who attends leaves with a smile. I am just glad I live a little distance away, in the neighbouring county of Louth, as I would be broke!
The next time you are tempted to buy a book, please consider your local Independent Bookshop, as these places are disappearing from our neighbourhoods and being replaced by larger chain-stores and supermarkets. Would you wish to have you children, or grandchildren miss out on the bookshop experience? The dedicated staff and owners? The scent of brand new books mixed with second-hand books loved for years? The meeting place for like-minded book lovers? I panic when I think that shops like Blackbird Books may not exist for the next generation. Do you?
You can check out Blackbird Books on their website http://www.blackbirdbooks.ie/ Twitter https://twitter.com/BlackbirdBks and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BlackbirdBooksNavan