Written by Catriona McPherson
Half way through Catriona McPherson’s Quiet Neighbors I felt compelled to go to Goodgle and find out if Wigtown is a real place. I’m happy to report that the small Scottish village full of second hand bookstores does exist. We could all go there though I doubt the experience will be like that of her heroine Jude, a librarian on the run. We don’t really know why Jude has fled London with nothing more than the clothes on her back or why the sight of a policeman makes her cringe. We do know that she impulsively bought a ticket for Scotland with a destination she remembers from a holiday with her ex lover Max. Here is her first glimpse of the Lowland Glen Bookstore.
“Books. Wavering, tottering piles of books. Brick-stacked towers of books. Woven dykes and leaning spires and threatening landslides of books. Unsorted. Fs upon Bs upon Ns, paperbacks and hardcovers, outsize to Mr. Men, novels and cookbooks and crosswords and plays. Jude snapped her eyes away and faced forward.”
It definitely is a mystery—there are dead bodies and bad doings—but to me it also reads like the kind of delicious dotty novel to be found in the stacks of Lowland Glen Bookstore. I love the author’s sensibility. Her writing is filled with jolts of pleasure for me such as “a black iron keyhole big enough for a mouse to pass through.” It’s one of those books that I’d happily suggest to a friend who doesn’t read mysteries. I’ve placed it firmly on my Books to Reread on a Bad Day shelf.
NOTE: If I had waited patiently I would have found the author’s brief note on Wigtown at the end of the book.
Quiet Neighbors: a Novel