The Lighthouse Bookshop by Sharon Gosling @sharongosling #contemporaryfiction #booklovers #feelgoodfiction

5193NMeIpjLAuthor: Sharon Gosling

Published: August 2022 by Simon & Schuster

Category: Contemporary Fiction. Romance, Feel Good Fiction

four-half-stars

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.

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SharonGoslingI’ve been writing since I was a teenager, which is now a distressingly long time ago! I started out as an entertainment journalist – actually, my earliest published work was as a reviewer of science fiction and fantasy books. I went on to become a staff writer and then an editor for print magazines, before beginning to write non-fiction making-of books tied in to film and television, such as The Art and Making of Penny Dreadful and Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of the Film. I now write both children’s and adult fiction – my first novel was called The Diamond Thief, a Victorian-set steampunk adventure book for the middle grade age group. That won the Redbridge Children’s prize in 2014, and I went on to write two more books in the series before moving on to other adventure books including The Golden Butterfly, which was nominated for the Carnegie Award in 2017, The House of Hidden Wonders, and a YA horror called FIR, which was shortlisted for the Lancashire Book of the Year Award in 2018.

My debut adult novel will be published by Simon & Schuster in August 2021. It’s called The House Beneath the Cliffs and it’s a story set in a very small coastal village in Scotland. The idea for it had lodged in my head years before. I have a love for unusual dwelling places and I came across a tiny house that completely captured my imagination. My adult fiction tends to centre on small communities – feel-good tales about how we find where we belong in life and what it means when we do. Although I have also published full-on adult horror stories, which are less about community and more about terror and mayhem…

I was born in Kent but now live in a very small house in an equally small village in northern Cumbria with my husband, who owns a bookshop in the nearby market town of Penrith.

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