Published: August 2022 by Simon & Schuster
Category: Contemporary Fiction. Romance, Feel Good Fiction
At the heart of a tiny community in a remote village just inland from the Aberdeenshire coast stands an unexpected lighthouse. Built two centuries ago by an eccentric landowner, it has become home to the only bookshop for miles around.
Rachel is an incomer to the village. She arrived five years ago and found a place she could call home. So when the owner of the Lighthouse Bookshop dies suddenly, she steps in to take care of the place, trying to help it survive the next stage of its life.
The title and cover of this book was the initial draw for me. A bookshop in a lighthouse…how lovely is that. The lighthouse, more of a tower really, is situated in the small, remote village of Newton Dunbar in the north east of Scotland. It was originally the private library belonging to the local landowner.
Rachel had appeared in the village five years ago and has been managing, and living in, the bookshop courtesy of Cullen MacDonald who now owned the building. Rachel is reticent about her past but she’s more than grateful to Cullen as the lighthouse is the place where she feels safe.
Toby Hollingwood is a burnt out journalist suffering nightmares from the terrible things he’s witnessed, who is now looking for somewhere remote and peaceful to write his memoirs. He thinks he’s found the perfect place in Newton Dunbar.
And so this past night his dreams had been flushed through with raging fire, as well as the usual miasma of gunfire, explosions and exodus.
The quiet doesn’t seem to be working for Toby, any inspiration or motivation to begin writing eluding him, but his visits to the bookshop allow him to form friendships and integrate into village life. I love that the bookshop is the hub of the village, with regulars popping in to peruse the books and pass the time of day, with coffee, a cup of tea and a sweet treat on offer, and even a game of chess.
Newton Dunbar may be a small community but it has a fair share of individual, interesting, and in one case nasty, characters. Edie and Ezra, who live next door to each other, have an ongoing feud going back far enough that no-one can remember how or why it started. A recent addition to the village is teenager Gilly, a runaway who was sleeping rough. I really enjoyed her story arc and how she matured and developed with the help of the villagers.
The Lighthouse Bookshop also has a historical thread which involves a mystery and secret, adding a fascinating and tragic layer to the story. An engaging and emotional story which also addresses some sensitive issues and encompasses themes such as not giving up, healing, new beginnings and second chances, whatever your age. I enjoyed this very much, and wish Newton Dunbar with its quirky library was a real place.