Stevie Carroll's Reviews > The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
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it was amazing
bookshelves: reviewed-elsewhere

Previously reviewed on The Good, The Bad, and The Unread:

As a general rule, I love women’s fiction set in and around bookshops and libraries, and I also have a bit of a thing for trivia. So this book with a heroine who works in a bookshop, adores reading across all genres, and takes part in quizzes when not attending or organising book clubs looked to be just my kind of thing. I can also empathise with her discovery of a whole collection of other people who are related to her but whom she’d never heard of much less met before, since something similar happened to me in my teens, though in nowhere near as dramatic a fashion. Nina Hill is far more introverted than me, but that makes for far more humour than if she’d been outgoing and fully prepared for dealing with all these strangers that share some of her genes.

Nina is a compulsive planner, and most chapters open with that day’s page from her organiser (I need to download the template that she uses!). Most of the items on her various lists are explained as the chapter unfolds, but I had fun guessing what some of them meant, even as I occasionally struggled to decipher the handwriting on my not-very-large screen. Most of Nina’s lists concern her tasks for the day and her scheduled activities: almost every day has both work and leisure activities already booked in. At work, Nina is in charge of various book groups for the younger customers of the bookshop where she works, and outside work she is a member of several monthly book groups and a successful quiz team – so successful they’ve been banned from at least one local league.

The quiz team leads to Nina’s first conflict. She finds herself attracted to a member of an opposing team, but convinces herself, without even speaking to him, that a relationship could never work, since not only is his team the arch-rivals to hers, but he seems to mostly know the answers to the sports questions – and Nina is not at all sporty, beyond taking various gym classes. Besides, her planner is far too full to fit in dating as well, and she has a perfectly good cat to keep her company at home.

Nina’s second conflict comes in the form of a lawyer, who brings news of her father’s death. Nina isn’t particularly bothered since her often-absent photographer mother had always told her they were better off without him. Now it turns out that he was not the loser Nina had imagined, but a wealthy man with children from all three of his marriages, ranging in age from considerably older to considerably younger than Nina herself. Not only that, there are nieces and nephews – some also older than Nina – as well as great nieces and great nephews. Nina is rather overwhelmed, but is helped out by the first nephew she meets: an anthropologist, who draws helpful diagrams of the relationships and turns out to like office supplies almost as much as Nina herself.

The rest of the family also share various traits with Nina, and none of the adult members seem to have an entirely good opinion of Nina’s father. Most are welcoming, although one is openly hostile, seeing Nina as a gold-digger, even before anyone knows the contents of her father’s will.

Nina’s adventures in negotiating the complexities of her new family, finding out that her rival in quizzes is actually a nice guy, and dealing with the possibility of her bookshop being forced to close due to her employer’s difficulties in paying the rent, were a delight. I was very much taken with the narrative voice of this book, which reminded me of Jenny Colgan at her best and provided an excellent commentary on the area where Nina lives and works. I’m very keen to read more by the author, and can see myself buying this particular book in print so I can read it over and over again.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 4, 2019 – Shelved
July 4, 2019 – Shelved as: reviewed-elsewhere
July 4, 2019 – Finished Reading

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