The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

Nina was just let go from her job as a librarian in the city, where they want young college grads who know more about marketing than finding the perfect book for readers, as Nina does. So she purchases a decrepit white van from man in a tiny town in Scotland, and discovers that the landscape there is what she’s spent her whole life yearning for, well, that and the handsome, midnight train driver who leaves books of Russian poetry on a tree limb when he passes by. Nina decides to fix up the van and use it to sell the books she’s been hoarding for years, which could often be found toppling down the stairs of the apartment she shared with a roommate named Surinder. But the moody landlord of the gorgeously renovated barn she lives in might lose his entire farm to a bitter ex-wife who left him for their interior designer. The Bookshop on the Corner will make you want to pack up for the Scottish countryside and sit beneath a giant oak tree reading your favorite books, or look for the girl in the white van who knows exactly what story you need to read next, no matter your age or interest.

 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Nina always liked to feel that Little Women was close by in a crisis. Why do you think this book gave her such peace? Did anyone else in the story have an “automatic comforting device”? Are there any books that make you feel the same way Nina did about Little Women, perhaps a favorite go-to?
  2. Why wasn’t Nina deterred by the old man who wouldn’t sell the van to a woman as little as her? How did she get around this and still manage to acquire it? Were there any loopholes attached?

For more discussion questions, visit owlcation.com/humanities/The-Bookshop-on-the-Corner-by-Jenny-Colgan.

The Recipe:

On the way to look at the white van which would change her entire future, Nina “ate cherry Bakewells from the service station as she lost herself in the pages of her book, and when she finally alighted in Kirrinfief, she felt like she was coming home.” Cherry Bakewells are usually comprised of a buttery tart crust, an almond cream layer, cherry (or sometimes raspberry) preserves, and topped with sliced almonds and glace cherries. These cupcake versions are a buttery almond cupcake with a cherry jam center, almond frosting, and garnished with maraschino cherries and sliced almonds.

Cherry Bakewell (Cherry Almond) Cupcakes with Almond Frosting

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  • salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • sugar
  • large eggs
  • all-purpose flour
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • milk
  • vanilla extract
  • almond extract
  • cherry preserves

For the frosting:

  • salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • Maraschino cherries (for garnish)
  • Sliced almonds (for garnish)
  • powdered sugar
  • almond extract
  • milk
  • vanilla extract

For full recipe and instructions, visit owlcation.com/humanities/The-Bookshop-on-the-Corner-by-Jenny-Colgan.

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To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, beat the two sticks of butter until smooth. Drop the speed to low and add 2 teaspoons of almond extract, then two cups of powdered sugar, one at a time. Scrape down the insides of the bowl if the frosting is creeping up the sides, or if there’s some powdered sugar sitting in the bottom of the bowl. Carefully pour in the 5 tablespoons of milk, followed by the 2 remaining cups of powdered sugar, and continue to mix on the lowest speed until everything is fully incorporated. Pipe onto cooled, filled cupcakes, and garnish each cupcake with a maraschino cherry and sliced almonds.

 

Similar Book Recommendations:

Jenny Colgan has numerous funny, insatiable novels that will have you craving everything from chocolate to cupcakes, as well as more details of the intricate lives of her heroines. Her New York Times bestsellers and International Bestsellers are: Little Beach Street Bakery, Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe, and The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris. She also has 3 Christmas novels available.

Sarah Addison Allen’s novels are very similar in style and making you crave various delectable delights, including romance. Some of her most popular novels are: Garden Spells, its sequel, First Frost, The Sugar Queen, Lost Lake, and The Peach Keeper.

Nina mentions MANY books, authors, and even famous literary characters. Some of them include: Little Women, The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Lark Rise to Candleford trilogy, the Outlander series, Nancy Drew, Moll Flanders, Fair Stood The Wind For France, Georgette Heyer, Norah Lofts, All Creatures Great and Small, the Faraway Tree books, the Harry Potter Series, Swallows and Amazons, and My Life as an Astronaut. Unfortunately, the book most frequently mentioned in this novel, the children’s story Up on the Rooftops, is entirely fictional.

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