Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"The Bookstore," by Deborah Meyler

When I was traveling in Europe last month and saw a novel titled “The Bookstore,” written by Deborah Meyler and published by the evocatively named and illustrious Bloomsbury Reader (2013), I couldn’t resist buying it. Some aspects of the book that appealed to me then and as I was reading the book (besides the title itself!): 1. The author is English, went to Oxford, and did a master’s thesis on Edith Wharton (one of my favorite authors) at St. Andrews (one of the cities I visited last month), and lives in Cambridge (UK). (I'm such an Anglophile...) 2. The author loves Manhattan, where she lived for several years, and this novel takes place there. (I love stories set in Manhattan...) 3. Much of the novel centers around an independent bookstore in Manhattan, one called The Owl. (Readers know how I feel about independent bookstores.) 4. The main character, Esme, is English but is now doing graduate studies in art history at Columbia University (I love the humanities and the academic world, where I have had my own career, albeit on the opposite coast of the U.S.) Besides the bookstore and her studies, Esme’s main storyline is her on-again-off-again relationship with a wealthy New Yorker, Mitchell; the two of them never seem completely in synch, and he gradually reveals himself to be rather cold and manipulative. There are more plot turns and twists related to this relationship, and to another possible relationship, but I don’t want to reveal too much. Esme is a thoughtful, intelligent, likeable character and one whom readers can relate to and enjoy spending time with. The owner and other staff members of The Owl are somewhat eccentric but very sympathetic and engaging, and provide a sort of surrogate family for Esme. I thoroughly enjoyed reading “The Bookstore.”
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