A grand baronial house on Loch Ness, a quirky small-town bookseller, and a single mom looking for a fresh start all come together in this witty and warmhearted novel by New York Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan
Desperate to escape London, single mother Zoe wants to build a new life for herself and her four-year-old son, Hari. She can barely afford the crammed studio apartment on a busy street where shouting football fans keep them awake all night, and Hari’s dad, Jaz, a charismatic but perpetually broke DJ, is no help at all. But his sister, Surinder, comes to Zoe’s aid, hooking her up with a job as far away from the urban crush as possible: working at a bookshop on the banks of Loch Ness. And there’s a second job to cover housing: Zoe will be an au pair for three children at a genuine castle in the Scottish Highlands.
But while Scotland is everything Zoe dreamed of—clear skies, brisk fresh air, blessed quiet—everything else is a bit of a mess. The Urquart family castle is grand but crumbling, the children’s mother has abandoned the family, their father is a wreck, and the kids have been kicked out of school and left to their own devices. Zoe has her work cut out for her and is determined to rise to the challenge, especially when she sees how happily Hari has taken to their new home.
With the help of Nina, the friendly local bookseller, Zoe begins to put down roots in the community. Are books, fresh air, and kindness enough to heal the Urquart family—and her own?
Zoe is a single mother who is struggling to make it in London, with no help from her son Hari's father or her own family, who have moved away. With the promise of a simpler life—and not one, but two, jobs lined up—Zoe packs up and moves to Scotland with Hari in tow. Once she arrives, she begins her nanny position for a family whom the locals regard as strange, and her second job with Nina, who runs a mobile book store. Although there a numerous supporting characters and small plots, the main story line follows Zoe and how she helps restore the broken family for whom she works. Zoe resists attempts by her charges, Mary, Shackleton, and Patrick, to try to run her off, but one incident between Mary and Zoe's mute son, Hari, has her reconsidering. After the incident, Hari's father finally decides to do right by his son, and Zoe seems to have no choice but to leave the place she has grown to love and the budding romance between her and the children's father. Best-selling author Colgan's latest (after The Endless Beach, 2018) is a story built on family, hardship, and love that will appeal to fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.