“…because happiness is found in a bookshop.”
Sold! How could I resist a book with a strapline like that? Impossible. Luckily, Jen Mouat’s debut novel, Summer At Bluebell Bank, didn’t disappoint.
In fact, from the cover (I know, I know, not only picking a book for its strapline but also judging it by its cover. Tut, tut) I thought it was going to be a light and breezy beach read, which would have been great, but actually it goes much deeper than that, which was even better.
The way Jen writes the emotional drama between family and friends made me invested in the story to the point I found it hard to put down.
Here’s the blurb:
Returning home is never smooth sailing…
Summoned by her childhood best friend, Kate Vincent doesn’t stop to think. Instead she books at one-way ticket from New York back to Wigtown, Scotland, leaving her glittering new life behind. Scenes of idyllic holidays at Bluebell Bank with the Cotton family dance in her mind, but not everything has stayed the way it once was… Especially when her first love, Luke, returns to town.
Emily Cotton never expected one email, sent off in a wine-fuelled daze, to bring her old friend barrelling through the front door of her dismally failing bookshop. But life for the Cottons isn’t what it once was; Emily’s brothers are hardly speaking, her beloved grandmother isn’t quite the same and Emily…well, Emily is the one most in need of Kate’s help.
Kate has given herself until the end of the summer to stay in Wigtown. Can she bring the Cottons back together, and save the family who once saved her?
Jen does a great job of weaving past and present without interrupting the flow of the story. She has a lovely way of phrasing things that had me tapping the highlighter option on the Kindle throughout.
We know early on that both Kate and Emily have their secrets (no spoilers, promise) and I really enjoyed the gentle drip of clues, building to the big reveal.
I also enjoyed learning more about Wigtown, which I’m embarrassed to say I’d never heard of before – and I call myself a book lover! Officially designated as Scotland’s national book town, Jen makes it sound like a place I MUST add to the bucket list.
On the whole this book is a thoroughly enjoyable read. It seems to me that happiness is not only found in a bookshop but in reading about them too.
My rating: Four and a half stars.
Thank you to HQ Digital (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.