Spotlight & Giveaway: The Summer Skies by Jenny Colgan

Posted July 13th, 2023 by in Blog, Spotlight / 23 comments

Today, HJ is pleased to share with you Jenny Colgan’s new release: The Summer Skies




New York Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan takes us to the gloriously windswept islands of northern Scotland, where we meet young Morag McGinty, who runs the puddle-jumper flights that serve the islands’ tiny but proudly feisty population.

Morag MacIntyre is a Scottish lass from the remote islands that make up the northernmost reaches of the UK. She’s also a third-generation pilot, the heir apparent to an island plane service she runs with her grandfather. The islands—over 500 dots of windswept land that reach almost to Norway—rely on their one hardworking prop plane to deliver mail, packages, tourists, medicine, and the occasional sheep. As the keeper of this vital lifeline, Morag is used to landing on pale golden beaches and tiny grass airstrips, whether during great storms or on bright endless summer nights. Up in the blue sky, Morag feels at one with the elements.

Down on the ground is a different matter, though. Her grandfather is considering and Morag wonders if she truly wants to spend the rest of her life in the islands. Her boyfriend Hayden, from flight school, wants Morag to move to Dubai with him, where they’ll fly A380s and say goodbye to Scotland’s dark winters.

Morag is on the verge of making a huge life change when an unusually bumpy landing during a storm finds her marooned on Inchborn island. Inchborn is gloriously off-grid, home only to an ancient ruined abbey, a bird-watching station, and a population of one: Gregor, a visiting ornithologist from Glasgow who might have just the right perspective to help Morag pilot her course.


Enjoy an exclusive excerpt from The Summer Skies 

From THE SUMMER SKIES, by Jenny Colgan, to be published by Avon Books, July 11, 2023.

I was such a shy, nervous child. My mother had to peel me off her when I went to nursery and primary school. I had precisely one friend, Nalitha Khan, who was the opposite of shy, and let me scurry along in her wake. But then, when the family hit upon me following into the family business—well, then everything changed. The chatty gossipy town where my grandfather lived—which normally intimidated me as the old ladies chivvied me to “speak up then, yon wee Morag, och, you’re so peely-wally; it’s a shame, with Jamie so bonny”—became somewhat easier to handle.

I kind of thought that it would all get even easier when I started flight school. In fact, the first thing ninety percent of people said to me was “Oooh, you’re surrounded by those handsome pilots all the time, lucky you,” which is obviously, you know, durr, very, very sexist and also rather disappointingly not at all the case. It was mostly men, but they saw me and the other couple of women in the class as mates, honorary lads practically. They were all of chasing the beautiful blonde drama students next door just like everyone else. Which is good, you know. I like being treated as a professional. Of course I did. They were just very, very, possibly too professional.

It was fine, being one of the guys. I was a good student, and good at what I did, and I was never excluded from anything. And I did like discussing engines and windspeed over a couple of pints of lager, of course I did. And talking about cars.

Then Jai and Abdul and Connor would all get into their very fancy cars and drive off and pick up other less technical girls for nights out, and I would just go home to the little newbuild flat I had rented because it was near the airport and not too expensive, no other reason. It was just a place to lay my head between shifts.

I dated a couple of engineers and that was fine, but once I graduated from flight school and moved into a proper job, well, I was just away all the time. So basically, I was a bit too square for the people who were used to people being away all the time, but a bit too exotic for people who weren’t. For example, with men, either they were a bit intimidated by my job and never mentioned it ever, but talked a lot about how good they were at fixing cars, or they would ask me loads about crashes and terrifying things which, up until extremely recently, had never happened to me or anyone I know—it’s really, really rare. Or they’d kind of pretend to feel sorry for me, asking me if it wasn’t incredibly boring, mixing the reality of their bad traveling experiences with my wonderful job.

And I didn’t know how to explain, not exactly, the feeling when you are just, just on the very tip of lifting a huge bird off the face of the earth; the exact second when you go from trundling along the ground, earthbound, to lifting up, up, then suddenly bursting free from the chains of gravity; soaring up through the clouds, bursting through, even on the grayest and dullest of days, the poor commuters left far below, endlessly beetling through traffic in the rain while you join the great route of kings, the blue sky stretching ahead of you, the darker curve beyond all yours, laid out in front of you, the clouds soft cushions you wave past and even the snowtopped mountains cowering beneath your dominion.

Which is my way of saying that normally I really, really love my job. Or at least I used to.

But when it comes to dating, I won’t lie, it’s a conundrum. For me, anyway. Some pilots solve it by having women or men dotted about in busy airline hubs all over the world, but I found to my horror that despite being a millennial I am just not cut out for that kind of thing, although in theory it’s cool obviously. Not many people that did as much maths and engineering as I did at school are cool. My mum says it was because I was a very busy career girl. But she is my mum, and actually uses phrases like “career girl.”

Anyway. My phone rang the second I left the HR debrief room, when I was queueing at the coffee stall. I definitely needed coffee. Or maybe just something warming and comforting to hold in my hands.

“How did the meeting go?”

“Gramps! It was fine!”

“Course it was,” he said with satisfaction. “That’s my girl.”

“I just need to wait for them to shut the incident log, then onward and upward . . .”

“But you’re cleared to fly?”

“There’s a few hoops to jump through yet, but . . . I think it will be all right.”

My voice was not wavering. Absolutely not at all.

“So,” he said with relish, “you’ll have a bit of time off.”

“Gramps,” I said in a warning voice.

He had never given up hope that I’d come back north. It didn’t matter how much I told him about the fact that I was not a bad person for giving up the freezing cold for flying all over Europe, for somewhere where a clothes shop wasn’t Mrs.-now-Ms. Haglye’s divorce project, which she proudly called a boutique and had the very latest in matching beige twinsets on very generously proportioned dummies and still did early closing on Wednesdays.

That a life of bottomless brunches and sunny trips overseas was what I felt I should probably be aiming for (it certainly was high on the list for all my pilot mates), and wouldn’t he want a swimming pool if he had the chance?

“Why would I need a swimming pool?” he said, genuinely mystified. “The sea is right here, bairn. I mean, right here.”

“You should come to civilization more often,” I said. “Honestly. You might like it.”

“I’ve been to civilization,” he said. “It smells terrible.”

“People like toilets on their planes, Gramps, it’s perfectly normal.”

There wasn’t a toilet on the Twin Otter. None of the flights were further than an hour, so you pretty much just had to hold on.

“It’s disgusting.”

I couldn’t argue with that, especially some of the stag parties we brought home, bleary and extravagantly unpleasant on Sunday mornings.

“Come on up,” he said. “Come on. The daffs are flowering.

“They’re over here.”

“And everyone’s asking after you.”

“Yes, that’s exactly the problem! ‘Oooh, wee Morag wouldn’t say boo to a goose!’ ‘Ooh, wee Morag and that frightful hair!’

‘Ooh, Morag, remember that time you peed your knickers at the Mercat Cross?’”

“That was funny though.”

“It was not funny! Jamie had a pet grass snake and put it down my neck.”

I shivered.

“Aye well, it’s no’ his fault you don’t like animals.”

“I don’t not like animals; I just prefer useful things. Like airplanes. And restaurants and civilization and roads that go places and don’t just peter out in a field.”

“Aye, it’s the big shiny life you have now, Morag.”

“Don’t pull that one on me.”

“You’ve forgotten your roots.”

“I haven’t!” I said, not for the first time nor, I knew, the last. “I just found . . . a bigger world out there.”

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

Giveaway: A print copy of THE SUMMER SKIES by Jenny Colgan


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and post a comment to this Q: What did you think of the excerpt spotlighted here? Leave a comment with your thoughts on the book…

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Meet the Author:

Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including 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.

23 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: The Summer Skies by Jenny Colgan”

    • Dianne Casey

      I enjoyed the excerpt and I’m looking forward to reading the book

  1. Latesha B.

    It’s a relatable conversation that one could have with an elderly family member. I enjoyed it.

  2. Diana Hardt

    Nice cover. I liked the excerpt. It sounds like a really interesting book.

  3. Summer

    I liked it, gave me a good sense of who Morag is, made me want to learn even more about her.

  4. Patricia B.

    Thanks so much for the excerpt. The excerpt gives a good idea of who Morag is, what her background is, and a bit about her plans for the future. She wants more of the world than her small home town has to offer. It will be interesting to see where her life takes her in the book.