Having been left disappointed with a number of her books in the past, it’s safe to say that I have a love/hate relationship with Jenny Colgan. However, somehow, I always end up giving her books another go.
Last year, she released The Little Shop of Happy Ever After. Instead of the usual blurb on the back, there was a letter from Jenny, which stated that this particular book was entirely dedicated to the book lovers. As someone who often prefers fiction to real life, I felt compelled to give the book a read over Christmas.
The Little Shop of Happy Ever After focuses on Nina, a dedicated librarian who truly loves her job. Unfortunately, she is met with the prospect of re-deployment or unemployment when it’s announced that her precious library is being closed down. However, Nina decides to take the opportunity to fulfil her lifelong dream of running her own book shop.
Armed with a flat full of books, Nina begins her dream journey by acquiring a van in order to set up a mobile book shop. Of course, life is never straight forward, and her first obstacle is being refused a parking permit in her hometown of Birmingham, just after purchasing a van all the way from Scotland.
The book follows Nina’s pursuit as she packs up her life and moves to Scotland in order to make her business a success. She is faced with further obstacles along the way, but will she get her Happy Ever After?
Everybody has a dream, and this is one of the reasons why I was so drawn to this book. I found myself rooting for Nina’s kind character. To see her trying to achieve her dream will make you believe that it’s possible for you too. Sometimes you’ve got to take risks in life, because they can most definitely pay off.
As well as Nina, we are introduced to a number of other characters including her flatmate Surinder, colleague Griffin, Marek and Lennox. Unlike some books, the additional characters in The Little Shop of Happy Ever After contribute well to the plot and are very likeable on the most part.
Whilst the story focuses on Nina’s journey of setting up a book shop, there’s also a little romance and a few sub-plots which enhance the main plot. Despite being categorised as ‘chick-lit’, Jenny Colgan tackles a number of pressing issues that affect people and communities, which I’m sure will resonate with many readers. There’s a particular sub-plot (I won’t spoil it) which brought a great sense of community spirit to the book. It was heart-warming to see Nina’s spark encouraging others to be compassionate too.
As the story progresses, we see Nina grow as a person. In the beginning, Nina had her nose in a book from dusk til dawn, and kept herself to herself. As time goes on, she learns that there’s life to be lived outside of a book. Nina comes out of her shell, grows in confidence and gains new friendships in the process, whilst also making a difference to the lives of people around her.
Whilst we all love losing ourselves in a book, The Little Shop of Happy Ever After reminds us that it’s okay to step out of your comfort zone. It will inspire you to turn your dreams into reality, and will leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling.
If you want an uplifting read for 2017, which will encourage you to follow your dreams, then Jenny Colgan’s The Little Shop of Happy Ever After is the book for you.