Saturday, November 10, 2018

Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan

There's a list of twenty-four other novels by Jenny Colgan in the front of Christmas on the Island, but I've only read one, The Bookshop on the Corner. I've picked up, and even brought home some of the books. The titles can be appealing -Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris. But, this one takes place on a small Scottish island. Since I hope to go to Edinburgh in September, it was time to try another one of Colgan's novels. This is the third in a series, but, of course, I picked up the third because it's new and it said "Christmas".

Mure is a tiny island off the coast of the north of Scotland. As the story opens, Bramble, the retired sheepdog that belongs to the MacKenzies, makes his way around, a perfect introduction to the center of town. Flora MacKenzie is the owner and baker at Seaside Kitchen. She's in her thirties, and returned home from London a year earlier. She fell back in love with the island, and with the lawyer, Joel Binder. That's Flora's problem. She's pregnant, and afraid to tell Joel because he was a foster child who never knew a loving family, but only abuse.

Flora's best friend is Lorna MacLeod, headmistress of the primary school. She longs for a man who became her best friend, but has distanced himself since discovering how much she loves him. Saif Hassan is one of the two doctors on the island. He's a refugee from Syria, living on Mure with his two young sons. But, his wife may be alive. He doesn't know, and he can't move on with his life.

Colgan's moving novel is about love, loss, and moving on in so many ways. Joel's employer is Colton Rogers, a wealthy American who moved to the island with the intention of changing it. Instead, he fell in love and married Flora's brother, Fintan. But, Colton is dying of cancer. When Tripp, Colton's brother from Texas shows up in the village, he only comes to ask for money for the family.

Everyone is going to change in the course of the few weeks before Christmas. The newcomers, Colton, Joel, Saif,Tripp, and even some Russian sailors, change the islanders and island life. Every encounter affects the life. Even those chance meetings are important to the world.

Christmas on the Island is a loving, emotional story of life. How do strangers change us? The world moves on, whether it's because of a death or anger or love. Although everyone doesn't have a happy ending in the book, the stories and their conclusions are appropriate. That's why Colgan's book is so moving. It's about realistic people, trying to deal with day-to-day life while sometimes fumbling with their feelings and relationships.

Looking for a story set at Christmas, without the syrupy feelings of so many Christmas stories? Jenny Colgan's Christmas on the Islands, beginning with a dog's tour of Mure, might just be it. Or, if the setting and Flora's story appeals to you, you might be smarter than me and start with the first in the series, The Cafe by the Sea.

Jenny Colgan's website is

Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan. William Morrow, 2018. ISBN 9780062869203 (hardcover), 340p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Unknown said...

Thank you Lesa for featuring Jenny Colgan's book on your page. I enjoy reading seasonal books and am drawn by books set in Ireland and it's neighboring countries.

Kay said...

I think this book sounds lovely and quite appropriate for a bit of my reading these days. I've turned to some happier or at least more emotional books rather than the 'psycho thrillers' I was reading. It's been good for me. Anyway, you're going to Edinburgh? How wonderful! We hope to get to Scotland at some point perhaps. I'm not the best traveler, but I might be able to manage Scotland and maybe London. My husband wants to try St. Andrews or at least see it. Off to look for this book - I've not read Jenny Colgan's books, but I've heard such good things. I've been reading my second book by Kristan Higgins and am very much enjoying the experience. We all need a little romance at times, right?

Lesa said...

Robin, Like you, I enjoy books set in Ireland, and the neighboring countries. Add in the Christmas season, and it was a perfect holiday book.

Lesa said...

And, it's not the time of year for psycho thrillers, Kay. Plus, there seem to be too many of them out there in the world. Time for something kinder. I "hope" to go to Edinburgh. Things can certainly change between now and the fall, but we'll see. I'm sure you'll find Jenny Colgan in your library system. Yes, we do need some romance, and this one was more realistic than many.

Margie Bunting said...

Lesa, I'm glad you tried this book (which I just picked up at the library). There are a couple of previous books with these same characters. I love Jenny Colgan's writing and find her books to be comfort food for me.

Lesa said...

I'm going to have to go back and pick up the previous books, Margie. I liked the characters & the setting. You're right. I can see how these would be comfort food. And to think I have over 20 of her books to read!

Bonnie K. said...

I, too, have read The Bookshop on the Corner. I really enjoyed it. I recently bought several more of her books. I can't wait to read them. I definitely want to read this latest of hers.

Lesa said...

I'm just happy I'm at the library, Bonnie. I think I'll have a plentiful supply here.