- Book: The Guesthouse at Lobster Bay
- Location: Scotland
- Author: Annie Robertson
The novel opens with a traumatic bang that prompts Emma to re-evaluate her life and, yes, she chooses a new path, away from London and her all-consuming job. Despite family reservations, she decides on a life in the far north of the British Isles and buys the rather run-down guesthouse of the title in a fishing village in Scotland.
Her conveyancing solicitor has been remiss and has not alerted her to a specific condition of sale. The building comes with a dog, and a very large dog at that, called Wilbur. It’s a Newfoundland, a breed that can often weigh as much as an adult human. As Emma enters the building, she eventually discovers Wilbur’s smelly presence locked away in a room (fear not, the help – Rhona – has been looking after him). Rhona confirms that he is ancient and can easily be outrun (but clearly by page 78 he is having an existential crisis and is bounding off ‘at full tilt’ and at one point later in the story there is even an offer for him to swim alongside a canoe – he is clearly invigorated by the ministrations of his new mistress!). In the first few pages the author has Emma putting down a marker that there is no way she would countenance having a dog in her guesthouse, as she doesn’t like ‘the smell, the hair, the slobber’. The scene is therefore set and she has her hands full!
Emma has dismissed her boyfriend Chris and arrived in her new life by page 30. I felt the build up was rushed, in order to hurry to the main focus of the story, to wit her new life in Scotland. The renovations in the guesthouse are soon underway and the guests are in. But of course it is not plain sailing, what with the dog whom she is intent on rehoming but who has other ideas; and so does the former owner Hilda, and not to mention her boating buddy and neighbour Aidan.
It’s a decent recipe, all the components are there for a readable romcom. It’s sweet and the writing is engaging, but I felt the storytelling needed a little tightening and would have loved a little more depth on the characters.