When I chose this book I was looking for a light hearted easy read, something enjoyable that wasn’t going to shred my nerves or break my heart. Something fun that might even make me laugh. So a big whoop and round of applause to the Bookish Life of Nina Hill for happily being just what I wanted.
The story revolves around Nina Hill, a single, cat owning, introverted, supremely organised (sounds like me), anxiety suffering book and fact loving 29 year old (ok – maybe I’m a bot older than that) who grew up with a loving but largely absentee mother and a father she never knew. That is until one fateful day when a lawyer shows up at her place of work (a not very profitable independent bookstore) and announces firstly that her father died recently, secondly that she is actually part of a large complicated extended family and that thirdly, she has been mentioned in her father’s will. Now that’s what I would call a surprise!
This of course throws a spanner in the works of her very ordered existence. But wait – there’s more. Nina is part of a pub quiz team and happens to be (much against her will) attracted to Tom who is part of a rival pub quiz team (she likes facts, remember). Tom is an attractive sports expert (or is he?) who is quite taken with her. But this poses a problem. How can she possibly fit a boyfriend or relationship of any kind into her newly crowded life?
I really enjoyed the light touch that the author used when writing this book. The humor and witty prose when the characters interacted was great and gave a real warmth to proceedings. The relationships felt genuine and not forced which goes for the characters too. Sometimes in a bid for quirkiness authors can make things feel overdone or over the top but not so here … well at least I think so. Their differing personalities shine in an easy manner that is not annoying. I especially loved the children within the story – Millie, Annabel and Clare were wonderful. The scene where Nina was running her children’s book club night and Tom showed up was absolute magic!
But the characters also had depth as well. Of her new found family Archie and Lydia were the most surprising, showing that there is always more than meets the eye. You just have to get past first impressions and try to get to know people better. But my favourite was Tom, Nina’s almost, possibly, perhaps boyfriend. He was such a sweetheart and I liked him so much! I was willing them to get together and felt more than a bit miffed when it looked like things were going south for good. SPOILER: But like all good rom coms, there was a public declaration of love (heart eyes) and all worked out in the end.
And for all it’s lightheartedness it does have some important themes. Front and centre is the complicated imperfections of modern families and how they’re still a good thing to have and be part of. Also remembering that just because you’re a family, it doesn’t mean that you’re all going to get along all the time. Don’t forget to be open to love and don’t be too rigid in your expectations when it does lighten your doorstep. And make room for spontaneity cause sometimes you can over plan things.
Look, this book is not going to win a Pulizter or Booker Prize for fiction but that is not it’s point. It doesn’t lay claim to anything like that at all. I actually think it succeeds very well at what it is. A fun, warm, modern story of finding something that you thought you didn’t want but in truth you needed.
Read and enjoy!
Rating: 3 Stars
(Header Image: Sarah Kreig)