The part in which we meet Nina Lee Hill and discuss her personality
Nina Hill’s life is perfect:
- She has a job in an old bookstore in the middle of a quaint part of Los Angeles
- lives in a lovely apartment with a slightly judgemental cat Philip
- her wonderful friends with freakishly good memories help her rock the competitive trivia quiz world
- her wonderfully direct photographer mother is on a working assignment somewhere in China
- thousands and thousands of books with their marvellous fictional world are waiting to be discovered and read
Nina is quiet, reserved, observant- after all, human interactions can be fascinating, it’s just not something she finds easy to engage in. Take mystery buffs, they are so different from other types of readers- eternally optimistic, they believe in the triumph of good over evil and in their own form of happy ever after.
You might describe Nina as an introvert. In her own words, being alone helps her replenish energy she loses interacting with others and ‘little islands of silence’ help her navigate ‘the long-distance swim’ of life.
Another thing that Nina enjoys is planning, setting goals, organising. How else would she be able to fit in all her Book Clubs (Book Bitches for Contemporary fiction, Sneaky Spinsters for golden age mysteries, District Zero for YA, and Electric Sheep Grazing Club -you guessed it!- for Sci-Fi). There’s also a lethal gym class combination of Spoga (Spin and yoga) and Nina’s competitive trivia team. Nina has always had a very active imagination and curious, ready to learn and explore mind which needed its food. If not properly fed (Thank God for school librarians), she’d go into a frenzy of anxiety and focussing on useless tidbits. Of course, anxiety is the real reason why Nina needs to plan and organise everything so obsessively.
Even in the most organised life there is room for whimsy. It just needs scheduling.The Bookish life of Nina Hill
Nina is also attentive, thoughtful, cheerful, able to stand-her-ground but not-unwilling-to-recognise-and-correct-her-mistakes. She is the kind of girl anybody would be happy to have as a friend.
The part in which we meet Nina’s family, friends and other characters in the book
Nina’s mother never told her who her father was. She preferred being labelled a party girl with total disregard to her own reputation to letting Nina know that her father was a much older Hollywood lawyer with a pregnant wife. As Nina’s mother herself had to travel to war zones and other less than wholesome places to raise a child, she found a wonderful substitute in the form of Louise, Nina’s Nanny, who gave the little girl her unconditional love and support. I found extremely poignant what Louise did, faced with Nina’s longing for a father figure in her life.
When Nina gets a call from a family lawyer who informs her that her father died and that she actually has a large and unusually complicated family, her first reaction is to shut down and say ‘No, thank you, I love my life as it is’. However, she does meet her new relations and discovers her own answer to the question of how much their shared genetics contributes to their extraordinary range of personalities and quirks. Everybody remembers her father differently and Nina herself might be the only person able to piece the true portrait of this mysterious man.
Nina is surrounded by people who love and care about her: her trivia team mates, her boss and her colleagues, kids from her book clubs (‘You have to work on your banter, sis!’), her half-siblings, nephews and nieces, and of course, Tom, who has a wonderfully complementary personalityto Nina’s. With great difficulty I am trying to restrain myself and not give away either Tom’s job, or Nina’s response to the quiz final question. Suffice it to say, they are both super romantic and will make you go ‘Aah’.
The part in which we look at the photos of the place where the book is set
Los Angeles of Nina Hill is a wonderful place full of unexpected treasures and quiet green neighbourhoods tucked in between touristy corners. One of Nina’s hobbies is photography, so we get a rare privilege to see Los Angeles the way she does. ‘I grew up here. Traffic is the rumble of the ocean to me’.
The part in which the reviewer finally gives in and professes her ardent feelings towards the book
I fell in love with this book from the first pages, it took me just a few chapters to recognise how irresistibly drawn I was to Nina’s humour and bookish references. The hours I spent in the company of Nina Hill filled me with joy and quiet happiness that only a well-written fictional world can bring. Nina’s journey to discovering her real purpose in life (we knew it all along, but she didn’t) was fun and touching and full of laugh-out-loud moments.
To tell the truth, if you haven’t read the book, I envy you a bit, you’re about to discover something wonderful.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
- Have you read the Bookish life of Nina Hill or is it on your tbr?
- Are you a person prone to bouts of anxiety? How do you cope with these feelings?
- For Nina her bookstore is her sanctuary. What place do you consider your sanctuary?