Spotlight & Giveaway: Studies at the School by the Sea by Jenny Colgan

Posted March 29th, 2024 by in Blog, Spotlight / 23 comments

Today, HJ is pleased to share with you Jenny Colgan’s new release: Studies at the School by the Sea




After all those lessons, it’s time to graduate….

Beloved literature teacher Maggie Adair loves her life at the prestigious Downey House boarding school on the gloriously sunny, windy English coast. It was there that she found her footing as a teacher and fell in love with her colleague David—the two great anchors of her life. But these days Maggie’s feeling restless, lured by the promise of a different life back in her Scottish hometown. How can you follow your heart when it seems to be taking you in two directions at once?

Meanwhile, Maggie’s favorite students are abuzz at the thought of graduation and set to fly the nest to their next adventure. What will life hold for mercurial Fliss, glamorous Alice, and shy, hard-working Simone when they finally finish their studies at the school by the sea? Will Maggie stay to welcome the next class of girls, or will she too graduate to new adventures?


Enjoy an exclusive excerpt from Studies at the School by the Sea 

Chapter One
There is a reason why people don’t like answering the phone.
Because ever since it was invented, it can pass on the worst
news known to man.
It can come at any time of the day or night—although little
good is likely to happen if it rings at four o’clock in the morning.
It can come out of a clear blue sky or a dark rainy one. It
can come when things are already troubling, or it can come
when you are happier than you ever dreamt in your life you
could be.
Maggie Adair, an English teacher at the famous Downey
House school, sat in the car next to David McDonald, and
as they crested the hill, heading off on their first ever holiday
together, she felt full with terrified anticipation. She
was brimming with happiness, but nervous too. What if he
wanted to visit old ruins all day? What if he didn’t appreciate
how much she liked to lie down and read on holiday? What
if he was funny about local food or talked loudly to the locals
in an exaggerated accent?
He glanced at her.
“You look,” he said, “like a woman terrified she’s made a
wrong decision by agreeing to go on holiday with someone
she doesn’t know very well.”
“I know you,” said Maggie timidly. And it was true. She
knew he was a wonderful teacher. A kind and decent man. A
reader. A . . . well, she couldn’t think about the rest without
blushing. Her bare white shoulders. A trembling mouth on
the nape of her neck. She closed her eyes briefly.
That had seemed like a lot at the time. Certainly enough
to throw up her whole life; ditch her fiancé, therefore upsetting
her entire family back in Glasgow, both by throwing
over someone they loved very much, and refusing to leave
the Cornish boarding school she taught in to move back
to Scotland to teach in what her sister Anne called a “real
She had given it all up to follow him, follow her heart. And
here they were, and suddenly it felt—not an anticlimax, but
rather, something terrifying. She had been in love with him
for three years; or at least, in love with an idea of him—his
broad smile, his dark, dancing eyes, his long lean frame . . .
yes. All of that.
And on David’s part, he had caused a scene at a railway
station that had got him arrested and cost him his job; he had
given up everything, including a fiancée, and now worked at
Phillip Dean, a badly rated school in the area that had trouble
holding on to any staff at all.
But now—Maggie could barely believe it—they were actually
here, driving away in his car.
Was this . . . was this for keeps? Experimental? All her
friends who were on dating apps talked a lot about how
many men they met who seemed amazing, perfect on paper,
but then vanished into thin air soon afterwards. After all,
David had been engaged to somebody else . . . as had she, of
course. Were they both all- in?
“Do you want me to tell you the really annoying stuff
first?” said David. She looked at him, trying not to let the
anxiety show on her face.
“Oh goodness,” he said. “This is bad. Let’s see. I wear a
panama hat in the sun otherwise I freckle.”
“I don’t mind that. Or freckles. I have lots.”
“Well, that’s a first,” said David, frowning a little. “Uhm, I
will always take a train or a boat rather than a plane if I can.”
Maggie smiled. She didn’t see him as someone who got up
at 4 a.m. to catch easyJet flights. Although she herself was,
very much so. She had always loved her girls’ trips.
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Well, it can take me a rather long time to get anywhere.”
Maggie looked out of the car. It had a creaky old canvas
cover—it was ancient, Maggie hadn’t even thought they
made Saabs any more—and they had pulled it down, so the
beautiful Cornish lanes were flitting past them, the wild
roses dancing in the light summer breeze, the scent of their
petals heavy on the air.
She had pulled the tie out of her long curly red hair—she
always wore it up at school—and David enjoyed it streaming
behind her, glorious in red and gold and amber. He wanted
to bury his hands in it, had to force himself to concentrate
on the road.
“I don’t think you doing things slowly presents much of
a problem,” said Maggie, looking at him and going rather
pink. He glanced at her with a sudden jolt and blinked in
the sunshine. It was a very quiet road. There were passing
points and plenty of high bushes. He was sure they could
pull over . . .
Maggie looked at him, her breathing coming a little faster,
then impulsively reached out and put a hand firmly on his
long thigh. They both looked at it. And that was the exact
second the phone rang.

Excerpt. ©Jenny Colgan. Posted by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.

Giveaway: We’re giving away two copies of STUDIES AT THE SCHOOL BY THE SEA to one lucky reader! US only.


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Meet the Author:

Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Christmas Bookshop, The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street Bakery, and Christmas at the Cupcake Café. Jenny, her husband, and three children live in a genuine castle in Scotland.
HarperCollins |  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-A-Million | Bookshop | Target | Walmart |

23 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: Studies at the School by the Sea by Jenny Colgan”

  1. psu1493

    I enjoyed the excerpt as I could see Maggie’s dilemma in wondering if she was doing the right thing. I am anxious to see how the story plays out.

  2. Patricia Barraclough

    They are in a relatively new relationship and still trying to figure each other out as well as where they are in the relationship. It is so right that phone calls can impact and change your life. With the different people and situations in their lives, that phone call can lead the in so many unexpected directions. It should be interesting to find out where this story goes.

  3. Laurie Gommermann

    Both David and Maggie seem to be pondering their relationship and the commitment this summer vacation is implying. Are they willing to lose their friendship? Are they ready for this next step? Then a phone call??
    Curious to find out if their trip will be waylaid and if so, will they be able to get back on track? Will they both want to continue to deepen their relationship?