Rachel moved to the quiet Aberdeenshire village of Newton Dunbar five years earlier. She lives with a cat Eustace in the top part of the lighthouse there, which is a bookshop on the ground floor. She manages the shop after the owner Cullen MacDonald realised he was too old to continue to live there. The cat is his, but came with the lighthouse. I do love animals in novels and there’s also a collie dog called Bukowski in this one.
The village is full of interesting characters. New arrival Toby Hollingwood is a writer, who is renting a cottage in the village, hoping for creative inspiration. Edie Strang is an artist, she lives in Corner Cottage and hates her neighbour Ezra Jones with his wandering goat. Then there’s the appalling Dora McCreedy, who is vile, especially to homeless youngster Gilly. In fact, Dora is a real panto villain, I wanted to boo and hiss every time she appeared!
Everyone is shocked and saddened when Cullen dies. He has no family, so what will happen to the bookshop and the lighthouse? Can Rachel save it? And what is the mystery about it?
I love the camaraderie between the characters and the real community feel in the novel. I liked both Rachel and Toby straight away and I was intrigued about heir back stories and what secrets they were keeping.
The cover is beautiful too, definitely the sort of book I would be interested in, if I saw it in a shop. I bought Sharon Gosling’s first novel (The House Beneath the Cliffs) in paperback, but haven’t had chance to read it yet.
I enjoyed the historical element too, how we discover the history of the village and the lighthouse. After reading quite a few dual timelines this year, it was refreshing to read someone in the present day (Rachel) investigating the history through documents and items from the past, piecing together the clues. This added a whole extra dimension to the book.
Overall, the book is great on so many levels. Just one teeny tiny criticism – the italicised bit on page 105 was really hard to read! But otherwise, it’s a great story with memorable characters, it has a bit of everything in there and is beautifully written.
At the heart of a tiny community in a remote village just inland from the Aberdeenshire coast stands an unexpected lighthouse. Built two centuries ago by an eccentric landowner, it has become home to the only bookshop for miles around.
Rachel is an incomer to the village. She arrived five years ago and found a place she could call home. So when the owner of the Lighthouse Bookshop dies suddenly, she steps in to take care of the place, trying to help it survive the next stage of its life.
But when she discovers a secret in the lighthouse, long kept hidden, she realises there is more to the history of the place than she could ever imagine. Can she uncover the truth about the lighthouse’s first owner? And can she protect the secret history of the place?
Praise for Sharon Gosling’s first novel, The House Beneath the Cliffs:
‘A wonderfully wise and beautifully written story about finding the courage to start over … I loved it!’ Isabelle Broom
‘A compelling read with a dramatic sense of place and a caring community at its heart’ Heidi Swain, author of A Taste of Home
‘A gorgeously remote and romantic great escape, brimming with foodie passion, friendship and heart’ Laura Kemp, author of A Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness
‘A magical story set in Scotland…An inspiring book of second chances’ Woman’s Own
‘A story to make you long to visit our glorious coastlines’ Prima
‘With a romance that gently simmers, a plot that flows as fast as the North Sea tides, and some gentle reminders of the need to protect our oceans, The House Beneath the Cliffs provides the perfect holiday getaway’ Lancashire Post
‘Thrilling & romantic’ The People’s Friend
‘An inspiring book of second chances’ Woman
‘Packed full of warmth’ Cumbria Life