I wanted to like The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts. I really, really did. The hardest thing about reviewing novels is just how much respect I have for any author (like Alison Sherlock) who has actually done the near-impossible and completed an entire work with a beginning, middle, and end.
And YOU might like this book! Obviously, people do, given its 1,500+ reviews at 4.5 stars on Amazon. But for me, it’s going to be a pass except under very narrow criteria.
The story itself, while very cliched, is fun! I have no problem with a good formula, and girl meets boy, girl helps boy, and girl falls in love with boy while also realizing her own self-worth is a classic. It’s also set in an English village, which I am a sucker for.
The characters are interesting, from the main ones of Amber and Josh to all the different shop regulars you meet. And the description of the window dressing designs that Amber does in the shop to make it more appealing really paints a mental picture.
What then, given all those positives, is my issue? It comes down to the writing.
It’s a personal hang-up, but it really rubs me the wrong way when an author keeps repeating themself in the same sentence or few sentences. In this case, it’s often about Amber’s lack of confidence, lack of self-esteem, full of self-doubt, etc.At a certain point, hammering the point home feels redundant.
Now, that being said, the writing does flow well and is very readable. While it’s not Shakespeare, it does (mostly) do what it promises: “The perfect feel-good read for 2021”.
Perfect might be pushing it, but feel-good read, definitely. There is also something appealing about starting a book that from page one you know how it will end and you are ok with not being challenged beyond that.
Overall I would say if you have a Kindle Unlimited account and you are looking for a book to act as a balm to a tired brain at the end of a long day, you could do worse than to pick up the Village Shop for Lonely Hearts.
I personally won’t be going back to visit Cranbridge anytime soon though.