Published by Headline
Publication date – 19 July 2019
Source – review copy as part of the CWIP Prize Shadow Panel.
Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own. . . shell.
Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, an excellent trivia team and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.
So when the father she never knew existed dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers.
And if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny and interested in getting to know her…
It’s time for Nina to turn her own fresh page, and find out if real life can ever live up to fiction. . .
Nina Hill is fine on her own, thank you very much. She has a job she loves at a book shop, a cat she dotes on and her various quiz clubs and book groups. So what if she is closer to her childhood nanny than her mother. She certainly doesn’t like Tom, the leader of a rival quiz group and she doesn’t need to know any details about the father she has never met. Until her father dies, and she inherits a large number of siblings, cousins, step mothers and other assorted relatives. Now Nina must mix with people, but she might just discover a whole new side to her story in the process.
Books about books are my kryptonite, there is always something magical, welcoming and warm about a book that has books as a theme. Such was this book.
Nina is an introverted extrovert. She likes nothing better than to spend time by herself, reading her books or talking to Phil her cat. She has her routines. Her structure. She likes to schedule nothing time where she has the fall back of not being busy. But she also has many other things to fill her calendar. She works at Knight’s Bookstore. There, as well as organising the bookshelves and ensuring her boss and the landlord don’t come into contact, she organises author signings and book clubs ranging from babies to middle school children. She books solo trips to the cinema and she is the leader in a pub trivia team, where she finds herself becoming increasingly attracted to Tom, the leader of a rival team. So used to being on her own, Nina fights the attraction, one that Tom also seems to be fighting.
Left to the care of her beloved nanny by a mother unable to resist the urge to travel the world rather than look after a child, she is used to not relying on family. Then Nina discovers the father she has never met has died. He’s left her something in his will and Nina must meet her huge extended family to find out what. She immediately gets on with her nephew, Guy, aided by the fact they have similar habits and quirks, and are roughly the same age. Then she meets her brother, who was born only months before she was. When she meets everyone at the will reading she is met with curiosity from some and outright hostility with others. But Nina has her ways, although she is perhaps unaware of them, and slowly she forges relationships she didn’t know she needed with this disparate set of people.
There are humorous moments dotted about this book, raising wry smiles and laughs as I read about Nina’s discovery of the father she never knew. There are drunken scenes at a vital trivia night, sweet interactions with Phil the cat, and some soap opera inspiration revelations around the conference table.
Nina discovers more about herself as she discovers more about her father’s life. She learns that he has bequeathed her far more than that detailed in his will. A family, and the freedom to secure her own future.
A lovely, warm read, filled with characters to amuse. I look forward to reading more from Abbi Waxman in the future.