June 9, 2020
William Morrow Paperbacks
Blurb: What happens when two medical professionals–ex Army medic from a village in the Scottish Highlands and an inner city nurse from inner-city London—switch jobs for three months and become unlikely pen pals?
Lissa, is a nurse in a gritty, hectic London neighborhood. Always terribly competent and good at keeping it all together, she’s been suffering quietly with PTSD after helping to save the victim of a shocking crime. Her supervisor quietly arranges for Lissa to spend a few months doing a much less demanding job in the little town of Kirrinfeif in the Scottish Highlands, hoping that the change of scenery will help her heal. Lissa will be swapping places with Cormack, an Army veteran who’s Kirrinfeif’s easygoing nurse/paramedic/all-purpose medical man. Lissa’s never experienced small-town life, and Cormack’s never spent more than a day in a big city, but it seems like a swap that would do them both some good.
In London, the gentle Cormack is a fish out of the water; in Kirrinfief, the dynamic Lissa finds it hard to adjust to the quiet. But these two strangers are now in constant contact, taking over each other’s patients, endlessly emailing about anything and everything. Lissa and Cormack discover a new depth of feeling…for their profession and for each other.
But what will happen when Lissa and Cormack finally meet…?
Over the years Jenny Colgan’s novels have gone from the hilarious, skating the edge to quainter and more introspective but she’s never lost me as a reader. In her latest, 500 Miles from You, Colgan does what many would say is a complete no-no. She has the prospective romantic couple spend the duration of the novel the 500 miles apart as in the title. The one thing Colgan has always proven is that she’s not afraid to take a chance with her writing.
Lissa is a London nurse who is suffering PTSD after witnessing a hit-and-run that killed a young teenager that she knew. While she tries to get herself and her life back together, her superiors believe it would be best if she had a change of scenery. They devise a change of position between her and Cormac, a former Army medic who is a nurse liaison in his home town in the Scottish Highlands. Lissa goes to the small village of Kirrinfief and Cormac goes to London. We have two fish out of water.
In their new surroundings, both Lissa and Cormac are instantly misjudged but as time goes on they are seen for the people they are. And, despite both being initially unimpressed with their new environs, they begin to see the virtues. In fact, they even appreciate these new worlds.
Lissa and Cormac begin texting, which begins their crush on each other. Cormac includes little drawings that are adorable. They both try to imagine what the other one looks like—but what I really love is that they like each other despite knowing what they look like.
As always, Colgan introduces a wide range of characters as foils for her main characters. However, Kim-Ange, Lissa’s best friend in London, is almost a third main character as her romance unfolds as well.
Colgan doesn’t shy away from offering opinions such as the bad influence of social media on the psyche. How people don’t appreciate their natural surroundings, or, for that matter, any surroundings whatsoever because their faces are constantly buried in their electronic devices. How being different is frequently beautiful. How vacuous some of our lives are.
Acerbic wit has always been one of Colgan’s trademarks and I’d be remiss if I led you to believe that it wasn’t included in 500 Miles from You. But there’s also a gentle humor as well.
And, I can’t tell you how much I wish that I was in Kirrinfief. Despite the cold, it sounds idyllic. They have wood burning stoves, I should be fine!
If you’ve never read a Jenny Colgan novel, you are missing a smart, witty writer. 500 Miles from You is the third in the Scottish Bookshop series, but it can be read as a standalone.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
See below for other Jenny Colgan novels reviewed here.
4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies