Book Review: The Christmas Bookshop

Follow Carmen as she battles to save a historic bookshop before Christmas and finds love along the way, in Jenny Colgan’s festive read.

Cozy winter home background, cup of hot cocoa with marshmallow, old vintage books and warm knitted sweater on white painted wooden board background alongside the front cover of The Christmas Bookshop

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Edinburgh is a beautiful city at any time of the year, and it’s particularly magical in the run up to Christmas. But when Carmen is made redundant and has to move in with her sister, Sofia, it’s hard for her to find the positives at first.

Sofia is everything that Carmen is not. She’s a highly educated, successful lawyer, married with three beautiful children and another on the way. She also lives in a stunning townhouse that looks like it belongs on a Christmas card. Carmen is single and has worked in retail ever since she left school, which has given her a self-confessed chip on her shoulder about not going to university.

So when her mum convinces Sofia to find Carmen a job and let her live with her, Carmen isn’t enthusiastic. But the challenge of helping reclusive Mr McCredie turn around the fortunes of his cute little bookshop before Christmas soon raises her interest level, and so does the attention of two attractive men. 

Glamorous but flighty self-help guru Blair and Brazilian research student Oke both catch her eye, but which one will capture her heart? And can Carmen rescue the bookshop before it has to close forever?

The Christmas Bookshop is as cosy as a Christmas mug of hot chocolate, sweet and comforting and the perfect read in the run up to Christmas. I couldn’t help but like Carmen: she’s funny, sparky and a bit of a disaster at times. Sofia appears to be the perfect mum-who-has-it-all at first, but Jenny Colgan develops her into a much more nuanced character over the course of the novel. Sofia’s daughters are very entertaining, especially Carmen’s mini-me Phoebe, and you’ll love to hate Skylar, the hipster live-in nanny who plagues Carmen’s every move. 

And of course, Edinburgh provides the perfect festive backdrop for Carmen’s adventures. If you have visited or even know anything about the city, you’ll recognise some of the famous settings for the storyline.

There was one thread to The Christmas Bookshop that I wasn’t totally sold on. Without giving away spoilers, it seemed to pop up occasionally and then became a major plotline towards the book’s climax. But overall, The Christmas Bookshop is a very entertaining Christmas novel with a will-they-won’t-they plot and a satisfying conclusion.

The Blurb…

Carmen has always worked in her local department store. So, when the gorgeous old building closes its doors for good, she is more than a little lost.

When her sister, Sofia, mentions an opportunity in Edinburgh – a cute little bookshop, the spare room in her house – Carmen is reluctant, she was never very good at accepting help. But, short on options, she soon finds herself pulling into the snowy city just a month before Christmas.

What Sofia didn’t say is that the shop is on its last legs and that if Carmen can’t help turn things around before Christmas, the owner will be forced to sell. Privately, Sofia is sure it will take more than a miracle to save the store, but maybe this Christmas, Carmen might surprise them all…

The Christmas Bookshop is a fun festive read with a captivating cast and location – 7/10

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