Lily Ballantine certainly wasn’t expecting to be fired from her job— but being terminated by the guy she had a crush on was salt in the wound. Hurt and scrambling, she packs up and heads out to the Scottish village of Carroch to the place she’s been avoiding: the gift shop left behind in her mother’s will. She’ll stay long enough to sell it and move on … but the shop just might lead to a greater gift than she ever could have imagined.
Author Maggie Conway opens with Lily sitting at her highest point. She’s an accountant, content in her job, even if she’s playing it a little safe. Yet by the end of the first chapter, she’s plummeted— rock bottom low. Rebuffed romantically. Jobless. And questioning the safeguards she’s placed in her life. These moments are uncomfortable to read (compelling failure always is), but Lily is such a likable character that it’s impossible not to cheer her on and hope that she pulls everything together.
And this rests on one of Conway’s many major strengths: her characters are not only authentic, but irresistible. Lily bounces into the tiny village of Carroch intent on selling some property, and yet she’s immediately caught up in a small cast who are hard not to fall for as they swap, share, and weave new stories. And, of course, there’s a hint of potential love. Jack, who runs the local activities center, practically pings with his connection to Lily.
Above all of this looms Lily’s mother and the gift shop itself. It’s bluntly placed that the relationship between mother and daughter was strained, and Lily struggles in processing her grief. These moments, of simple, unrestrained exploration of life and family are beautiful. That these points carefully coincide with Lily’s own personal growth just proves that Conway is a master storyteller.
Carroch seems like a lovely place to visit. Its denizens are beyond charming. Yet it’s Conway and her skillful crafting of Lily that make The Little Gift Shop on the Loch worth visiting.
Title: The Little Shop on the Loch
Author: Maggie Conway
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: May 31, 2019
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.