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Staff Picks Category: Scotland

The Glass House by Beatrice Colin []



Disappointed artist Antonia McCulloch is going through the motions with her distant husband when her previously unknown sister-in-law and niece unexpectedly arrive on her doorstep. Antonia has been managing Balmarra, the family estate, since her father’s death, and never expected to hear from her estranged brother again. Cicely Pick has packed herself and her daughter Kitty up to travel from Darjeeling, India to Scotland in pursuit of her husband’s right to the family home. He’s in need of financial support, and she intends to sell Balmarra and the assets therein to fund his continued botanical expeditions in Asia. As Antonia and Cicely become acquainted, their mutual suspicions give way to tentative friendship. Cicely is a novel addition to village society, and strikes up an ill-advised flirtation with a wealthy neighbor. Neither of the women’s husbands seems invested in the future of the estate, and none of them anticipate what they eventually learn from the family solicitors. Balmarra itself is another character in the story, filled with family treasures and portraits, with a spectacular glass house on the grounds containing rare plant specimens from all over the world.

Offer this to fans of historical fiction, women’s stories, botany, and Scotland.

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The Café by the Sea by Jenny Colgan []



Flora MacKenzie abandoned her father and brothers to the farm where she was raised immediately following her mother’s funeral, escaping to an appealingly anonymous city life where she works, drinks wine, and nurses a crush on her boss. She reluctantly returns to the remote Scottish island when required by a work assignment from her fancy London law firm. Left to her own devices by scheduling delays, she cleans up her childhood home, finds her mother’s handwritten recipe book, and begins to cook meals and treats that bring her mother’s memory back and her family together. She even finds herself attracted to a lovely man from a neighboring island. Without expecting or wanting it, she finds home, love, work, and herself, all while coordinating the successful community integration of a wealthy developer and his hotel project. Multiple fully developed gay characters break up the relentless heteronormativity often found in the genre.

A great pick for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, and Louise Miller’s The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living.

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