The beloved author of The Bookshop on the Corner returns with a sparkling, sunny, soulful new novel perfect for fans of Elin Hilderbrand. Years ago, Flora fled the quiet Scottish island where she grew up -- and she hasn't looked back. What would she have done on Mure? It's a place where everyone has known her all her life, where no one will let her forget the past. In bright, bustling London, she can be anonymous, ambitious... and hopelessly in love with her boss.
But when fate brings Flora back to the island, she's suddenly swept once more into life with her brothers -- all strapping, loud, and seemingly incapable of basic housework -- and her father. Yet even amid the chaos of their reunion, Flora discovers a passion for cooking -- and find herself restoring dusty little pink-fronted shop on the harbour: a café by the sea.
But with the seasons changing, Flora must come to terms with past mistakes -- and work out exactly where her future lies...
Funny and heartfelt, The Café by the Sea is a delightful summertime novel that puts a modern twist on the classic Seven Brides for Seven Brothers story.
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a memorable and poignant journey to a place few of us will ever be fortunate enough to experience.
Flora’s mother always pushed her for ‘more”, study more, dance more, dream big. And she succeeded in making a life, albeit a difficult one, as a paralegal in London. But now, a new client to the firm has landed on her small home island of Mure, and her boss wants her to help with the publicity and relations with the locals to get this multibillionaire tech giant what he wants. Flora was a wonderful striking girl, but always a bit reticent and unnoticed until her own internal conflicts about being back on Mure and her self-confidence start to sort themselves out. As anyone who has been in the upper Highlands can attest, blondes with fair skin and pale eyes are favored as otherworldly. The elders fawn over your specialness, the other kids tease you, and you constantly hear the refrain of “selkie”. Not an unusual sighting at all, these islands are still releasing secret Norse treasures from their earliest histories, a lineage often born out in the fair skinned, fair haired northern scots. But, always being made to feel different, even as being the only girl with 3 brothers would provide enough of, the separation caused jealousies at home between the kids, and made Flora feel her mother’s death keenly, and she’s never quite recovered.
Now – the people around Flora are what cause most of the conflicts (and moments) in the story As it was her first return after her mother’s funeral, where harsh words were spoken to her family, she’s subjected to plenty of hard looks, and always imagines that people are talking about her behind her back. See, Flora is overly concerned with what others think of her, and this is most keenly felt when she is home among those who’ve known her from childhood. She’s meant to talk up the new owner of the grand house on the island, newly renovated and staffed with no consideration to those on the island. As life offers little opportunities and fewer options for locals, the emigration off island to work, school and make a life is always a concern. When you add in Flora’s boss – a brusque, no-nonsense, socially awkward American lawyer, anyone who has felt as if “newcomers” have invaded their life and plan to overturn everything, the stage is set – needing only Colgan’s skill with storytelling and character building to give it life.
Here is where Jenny Colgan excels: her characters are flawed and desperately clinging to images of themselves as their best selves, even when they are riddled with insecurities and questions, and often resistant to change. Slowly, the magic of the island and it’s unique feel, a feel that is oozing from the pages that will work it’s magic on you as well as those in the book. No one is wholly without difficulties in this story, and there are moments that bring people together quite literally to be split apart seconds later over another old or imagined slight. From the old legends, singular scenery, temperamental weather and the incursion of modernity much to th dismay of many who cling to the old ways, this story goes from one high point to another. From visualizing the Orca beached on the sand to the joy of the ceiladgh and the Highland dancers, this story takes what could be anyone’s return to home after a long absence story to one that is a memorable and poignant journey to a place few of us will ever be fortunate enough to experience.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Receive the book today and finished it. Couldn’t put it down. I didn’t want the book to end.
I really loved this book, the story and the author. I was disappointed when it ended. I'm glad there appears to be a sequel.