I have finally found 20 minutes each day to read a chapter or two (this mum business is very time consuming). I have just finished reading Jan Ellis’ romantic comedy ‘The Bookshop Detective’, and it was everything I needed for a light hearted break.
Jan began writing fiction by accident back in 2013. Before then she juggled being a publisher, editor and historian. You could say fiction found Jan and it was fate. Jan was asked to write a history book but mentioned fiction for women, and the rest literally became history.
The series of books are based in small town settings with likeable, funny and charming characters who range from young teens to wise eighty year olds. There is a character for everyone to fall in love with.
I have never read any of Jan’s previous books, so when I got the chance to find out more….I did exactly that!
My Q&A with Jan Ellis:
Q: How and why did you start writing fiction novels?
A: It really happened by accident. I was originally approached by a digital publisher to write a history book, but we couldn’t agree on a topic. ‘No problem,’ they said. ‘Have a go at some women’s fiction instead.’ Ignoring the fact that I hadn’t written stories since the age of about seven, I whizzed over a proposal, contracts were signed and off I went into the great literary unknown.
Fortunately for me, once I sat down and thought about the setting and the basic plot, I was amazed by how quickly ideas flowed. As soon as my heroine Eleanor Mace appeared, the personalities of her mother Connie, sister Jenna and other family and friends followed on quite naturally. Those characters are central to the two ‘Bookshop By the Sea’ books, one of which is The Bookshop Detective.
Q: Who is your personal favourite author and have they influenced the way you write?
A: I’ve recently discovered Patrick Gale, whose Notes From an Exhibition is an amazing book. It’s an emotional, yet beautifully structured work. If I could write like that, I’d be a happy woman.
Q: Which has been your favourite book you have written and why? They are all so very different whilst incorporating a romcom/mystery tale.
A: I’m rather fond of Rachel Greaves, the heroine of French Kisses. Rachel is an artist with two kids, a rambling stone house and an ex-husband, a handsome picture framer and an American academic all pursuing her. I enjoy writing comedy, and this book is probably the funniest.
Q: Do you base any of your characters on people you have met or are in your life?
A: I couldn’t possibly comment…
Q: How did you come up with the story behind The Bookshop Detective?
A: My publisher at Waverley Books (who brought out the paperbacks) loved the characters from A Summer of Surprises and An Unexpected Affair and wanted another story set in Eleanor’s quirky bookshop. We actually came up with the title first, then I had to invent the story. Given that the book is set in a Devon seaside town, I knew the mystery would need a sea-faring element. The rest followed from there!
When a ghost ship is spotted on the horizon one spring evening, bookseller Eleanor Mace decides to investigate the myths and legends of Combemouth, the seaside town where she runs The Reading Room. As Eleanor digs deeper into the town’s history, she becomes intrigued by a Victorian crime report and is determined to find out what happened to a boy at the centre the case – one with intriguing links to the present.
As Eleanor begins to uncover the truth – aided by the vicar but somewhat stalled by the local librarian – she has an unexpected challenge on her own horizon. Daniel – her husband of six months – is determined that they give up their separate homes and find a new place together. But Eleanor adores her cottage by the sea and resists, guaranteeing that things turn a little frosty as the summer begins.
A celebrity book launch, an exploding dress and some salsa-dancing pensioners make this a mystery with a difference.
My review of ‘The Bookshop Detective’:
I love a book where you can feel the passion and beliefs of the author shining through. I could tell from 2 pages in that:
a) Jan is a true romantic
b) I was going to be transported to the seaside town of Devon
There is an element of mystery throughout this book, but not so much that you have to reread chapters to understand where you left off.
The characters are extremely likeable and two in particular will leave you laughing out loud. The calamities and the subtle humour throughout is also something that kept me flicking the pages (and putting off housework whilst my baby was sleeping).
If you want a holiday read that will ease you into your summer reading challenge then this is the book for you!
I will definitely be reading the rest in the series now – Jan Ellis, you have me hooked!
Purchase from Amazon as a paperback or Kindle here.
*This opportunity has been sent to Daisarella.com by a PR/brand but all opinions are my own*