Review & Giveaway - - Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop
Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop
by Jenny Colgan
Release Date: October 10, 2023
Reviewed by PJ
Christmas comes early—far too early—to McCredie’s little Old Town bookshop in Edinburgh. It’s summer, but an American production company has decided that McCredie’s is the perfect location to film a very cheesy Christmas movie. After all, who can resist the charmingly narrow historic street with its Victorian grey stone buildings and warmly lit shop windows?
Carmen Hogan, the bookshop’s manager, is amused and a bit horrified by the goings-on, but the money the studio is paying is too good to pass up. She uses the little windfall from filming to create new displays and fend off a buyout offer from an obnoxious millionaire who wants to turn McCredie’s into a souvenir shop selling kilts made in China and plastic Nessies. Still reeling slightly from a breakup, Carmen’s not particularly looking forward to the holidays. But just as snow begins to fall and the lights of Christmas blink on, all sorts of lovely new possibilities present themselves…for McCredie’s bookstore, and for Carmen herself.
Jenny Colgan takes readers back to Edinburgh, Scotland for part two of the story that began in her 2021 holiday novel, The Christmas Bookshop (read my review). Picking up where book one ended, this new novel follows Carmen and Oke (pronounced okay) through the next year as they navigate life's challenges together and then apart.
I would describe Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop as women's fiction, or possibly contemporary fiction, though it also has strong romantic elements. The primary focus, however, is definitely on Carmen and her journey of growth which is filled with peaks, valleys, hilarity, and a fair share of awkward moments. I love the relationship that has developed between Carmen and Mr. McCredie, the quirky, elderly owner of the bookshop where she works. There's frustration, exasperation, gratitude, and a boatload of affection between these two. There are, in fact, a whole group of quirky characters who populate the quiet street in old Edinburgh where the bookshop resides. Colgan really brings them, and their street, to life in vivid detail, immersing me into their daily lives as they navigate the ups and downs of a changing landscape as a greedy purveyor of tacky tourist shops slowly worms his way into their neighborhood.
The tenuous and tricky relationship between Carmen and her sister is again front and center. Things are changing at her sister's house, where Carmen came to stay for a few months while getting back on her feet and has now been there a year. Family dynamics are another area where Colgan excels with realistic and complex tension between the sisters, children who steal every single scene they're in, and a new "manny" who provides laugh-out-loud humor along with surprisingly wise advice and more than a few temptations.
The one area where I felt a bit let down in this second novel is the romantic relationship between Carmen and Oke. They break up at the beginning of this book, with Oke returning to his native Brazil for a six-month scientific expedition in the Amazon. We follow them individually through Carmen's POV in the majority of the book with Oke's POV popping up in an occasional chapter here and there and no communication between the two until the end of the book. Though I understand the importance of Carmen's individual growth, I enjoyed their scenes together in book one and really missed that in book two.
Overall, I enjoyed Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop. It was engaging, gave me a taste of the holidays in Edinburgh, made me laugh in places, cringe in others, and brought home the happy ending I was hoping for. This is a book that I strongly recommend reading after you have read The Christmas Bookshop.
Have you read Jenny Colgan?
Did you read The Christmas Bookshop?
What holiday books are you looking forward to reading this year?
One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, November 5 will receive a print copy of Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop.