Exclusive excerpt ‘the endless beach’ by jenny colgan happy ever after mouth sore under tongue

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookshop on the Corner and The Cafe by the Sea comes another enchanting, unforgettable novel of a woman who makes a fresh start on the beautiful Scottish Island of Mure—only to discover life has more surprises in store for her.

When Flora MacKenzie traded her glum career in London for the remote Scottish island of Mure, she never dreamed that Joel—her difficult, adorable boss—would follow. Yet now, not only has Flora been reunited with her family and opened a charming café by the sea, but she and Joel are taking their first faltering steps into romance.

In the meanwhile, Flora is finding pleasure in a magnificent sight: whales breaking waves off the beaches of Mure. But it also signals something less joyful. According to local superstition, it’s an omen—and a warning that Flora’s future could be as fleeting as the sea-spray…


Even in early spring, Mure is pretty dark. Flora didn’t care; she loved waking up in the morning, curled up close, together in the pitch black. Joel was a very light sleeper (Flora didn’t know that before he had met her, he barely slept at all) and was generally awake by the time she rubbed her eyes, his normally tense, watchful face softening as he saw her, and she would smile, once again surprised and overwhelmed and scared by the depth of how she felt; how she trembled at the rhythm of his heartbeat.

She even loved the frostiest mornings, when she had to pull herself up to get everything going. It was different when you didn’t have an hour-long commute pressed up against millions of other commuters breathing germs and pushing against you and making your life more uncomfortable than it had to be. Instead, she would rake up the damped peat in the woodburner in the beautiful guest cottage Joel was staying in while working for Colton Rogers, the billionaire who owned half the island. She would set the flames into life—and the room became even cozier in an instant, the flickering light from the fire throwing shadows on the whitewashed walls.

The one thing Joel had insisted on in the room was a highly expensive state-of-the-art coffee machine, and she would let him fiddle with that while he logged on to the day’s work and made his customary remark about the many and varied failures of the island’s Internet reliability. Flora would take her coffee, pull on an old sweater, and wander to the window of the cottage, where she could sit on the top of the old oil-fired radiator, the type you get in schools but had cost Colton a fortune. Here she would stare out at the dark sea; sometimes with its white tips showing if it was going to be a breezy day; sometimes astonishingly clear, in which case, even in the morning, you could raise your eyes and see the brilliant cold stars overhead. There was no light pollution on Mure. They were bigger than Flora remembered from being a child.

Flora went up to him. Music was in the lifeblood of everyone on Mure. Before the ferries and the airplanes came, they’d had to make their own entertainment, and everyone joined in with enthusiasm, if not always too much talent. Flora danced well and could just about play a bodhrán if there wasn’t anyone better around. Her brother Innes was a better fiddler than he let on.

Joel blinked and looked over her shoulder. It was silly, really, a small thing in the endless roundabout that had been his difficult childhood, that every new school was a new chance to get it wrong: to wear the wrong thing, to like the wrong band. The fear of doing so. His lack of ability, or so it seemed, to learn the rules. The cool bands varied so widely, it was absolutely impossible to keep track.

He had found it easier to abdicate responsibility altogether. He’d never quite made his peace with music. Never dared to find out what he liked. Never had an older sibling to point the way. It was the same with clothes. He only wore two colors—blue and gray, impeccably sourced, from the best fabrics—not because he had taste, but because it seemed absolutely the simplest. He never had to think about it. Although he’d gone on to date enough models to learn a lot more about clothes: that was something they had been helpful for.

He glanced over at Flora. She was staring out at the sea again. Sometimes he had trouble distinguishing her from the environment of Mure. Her hair was the fronds of seaweed that lay across the pale white dunes of her shoulders; her tears the sprays of saltwater in a storm; her mouth a perfect shell. She wasn’t a model—quite the opposite. She felt as grounded, as solid as the earth beneath her feet; she was an island, a village, a town, a home. He touched her gently, almost unable to believe she was his.

Flora knew this touch of his, and she could not deny it. It worried her, the way that he looked at her sometimes: as if she were something fragile, precious. She was neither of those things. She was just a normal girl, with the same worries and faults as anyone else. And eventually he was going to realize this, and she was terrified about what would happen when he realized that she wasn’t a selkie; that she wasn’t some magical creature who’d materialized to solve everything about his life … She was terrified of what would happen when he realized she was just a normal person who worried about her weight and liked to dress very badly on Sundays … What would happen when they had to argue about washing-up liquid? She kissed his hand gently.