Ask most book lovers what they dream of and probably 8 times out of 10 they will say the same thing, “I want to have my own bookshop”. The other two probably just dream of spending time on a beach (or somewhere else where they can be alone) to read their massive collection.
Clare is in a rut. Admittedly she’s been in a rut for a while and she’s sure how to get out of it. After leaving university before graduating she has been floating, meaningless jobs that she doesn’t stick at for whatever reason. It sounds, to me, like she has a depressive disorder, but this is a sort of light-hearted book so we won’t go into that. When she sees a job advertised, 3 months running a bookshop on a Bali beach, she thinks exactly what most would think “what’s the massive catch?”
After applying on a whim – urged by her photographer cousin Lina – she gets the job and soon she is off to much sunnier climes, the beauty of Bali.
When she gets to the island nothing is as she expects. She is met at the airport by Adam, the owner of the book store and whisked off to meet her flatmate – which she certainly wasn’t expecting. Jack is staid, sensible, a businessman who – from the outset – is interested in the numbers, the profit margin and nothing more…at least that’s what it seems. He has hidden depths which, slowly, Clare will discover.
This book has everything that any book lover dreams of – meeting a favourite author, organising incredible book readings, a book club that works and brings people together, and finding your light under a bushel.
I really enjoyed the story, it had layers that I wasn’t expecting, specifically Celestina’s story, she is a wonderful character who has been through a lot. She’s colourful, vibrant, intuitive and brings everyone together. She loves who she is and seems to have a sense of who others could become.
Jack and Clare are great as a business partnership, they seem to balance each other out and it’s for this that I personally didn’t interpret their story as enemies-to-lovers. From the very start, there was a spark, which everyone sensed. And they don’t ever exactly hate each other, there is a tinge of animosity and pre-judgement about who is the more capable, and yes, Jack does make assumptions, as does Clare, about what exactly they are on the island for. However, once you look beyond that, they aren’t ever enemies – they have the same goal – saving the bookshop.
Overall, this is a great book. I do feel, as I have mentioned that the title and the blurb are a tad on the misleading side, but perhaps I missed something. This is not exactly You’ve Got Mail. They are both on the same side with the same goal, the same intent and the ‘rivals’ aspect disappears incredibly quickly (if it was there at all).
The beauty of Bali is never really broached, but to be fair, it is only the gravy for the rest of the ingredients of the story.
My favourite character in all of this was absolutely 100% Celestina, she brought everything together and wrapped it in a sparkling bow – and the fact that she was a romance novelist who veered towards erotica was amazing. Of course, there are elements of her character that I do not feel in any way qualified to talk about – her history as a man and how she felt about who she used to be – ultimately she is who she is and she is incredible.
A colourful, enjoyable beach read, that has layers and heart.