It’s been a little while since I read one of Kirsty Ferry’s lovely books – I’ve neglected her for a while (just to give a few others a look-in!). But today I’m delighted to be reviewing her latest novella, Jessie’s Little Bookshop by the Sea, on publication day (10th September). The latest in the Tempest Sisters series, but a stand-alone story, it’s available for kindle via Amazon, on all other major e-book platforms, and as an audiobook. My thanks to Liz at Choc Lit for my advance reading e-copy.
I remember reading another of Kirsty’s Tempest Sisters novellas – Summer at Carrick Park – on a hot afternoon in the garden last year, and loving it (you’ll find my review here). And it was another steaming hot day in the garden when I settled down with this one, despite its chilly off-season Yorkshire seaside setting – and the hot weather isn’t essential at all, because this was a lovely read you’d enjoy in any season.
Take a trip to the little bookshop by the sea …
Jessie Tempest has two main interests: reading books and selling books. Her little bookshop in the seaside town of Staithes is a cosy hideaway from the chilly Yorkshire wind, but it’s also Jessie’s sanctuary from the outside world.
When writer Miles Fareham and his son Elijah arrive to stay in the holiday apartment above the shop, it’s a test for Jessie who has always felt clueless when it comes to kids. But as she learns the story of the single father and the inquisitive eight-year-old, Jessie realises that first impressions aren’t always the right ones – and, of course, you can never judge a book by its cover!
Who doesn’t love a story featuring a bookshop? And while I might have been put off by the idea of eight year old Elijah – but then so was Jessie, she’s not much of a fan of small children either – he was one of those rare small people that immediately (and unexpectedly) found a place in my heart.
What never fails to surprise and delight me about the author’s novellas is how she can build such well-rounded characters and develop a storyline that’s completely satisfying within so few words. Jessie herself isn’t exactly lovable at the start – she’s a bit brittle and tetchy, and not best pleased when Miles and Elijah move into the holiday let above her Staithes bookshop. She’s already met them at her sister’s jet workshop in Whitby – not the most comfortable of encounters – and it’s understandable that she’s fearing the worst. But she sells books – well, she lives books really – and what starts with helping out Miles with a few local guidebooks draws them into each others lives as Elijah enjoys spending time with her in the bookshop, his excitement about books quite contagious.
I very much liked the element of misunderstanding in their developing relationship, and the depth of the back story as it’s slowly revealed. There’s a lovely developing romance, and a warmth about the story’s telling, but the story packs in so much more. The setting is just wonderful with a vividly drawn backdrop of Staithes, Whitby and the Yorkshire coast: there’s plenty about the books that are Jessie’s passion (and Elijah’s too), and a nice smattering of history too. And if you’re familiar with the author’s other books – there’s no need to be, but I can’t think of any I wouldn’t recommend – you’ll find some lovely references in this story that you’ll enjoy recognising.
This was such an excellent read, and the loveliest of escapes for an afternoon – no time slip, not a large cast of characters, no major complications, just one of those stories you set aside at the end with a smile, and say “I really enjoyed that”.
About the author
Kirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 with the ghostly tale Enchantment. Her timeslip novel, Some Veil Did Fall, a paranormal romance set in Whitby, was published by Choc Lit in Autumn 2014. This was followed by another Choc Lit timeslip, The Girl in the Painting in February 2016 and The Girl in the Photograph in March 2017. The experience of signing Some Veil Did Fall in a quirky bookshop in the midst of Goth Weekend in Whitby, dressed as a recently undead person was one of the highlights of her writing career so far!
Kirsty’s day-job involves sharing a Georgian building with an eclectic collection of ghosts – which can sometimes prove rather interesting.