Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler

This week in Tasmania has been very cold. It does this every year. We get a week of 20 degree + temps at the end of winter (70's F) and everyone breaks out their summer clothes and then, Wham ! the winds come from the south (Antarctica) and we freeze.  I have not even left the house this week because I can't get warm.

So the Penguin and I were wondering what we could do. We looked at the bookshelves in the front room and decided to go to New York. After  all it is summer there now going into fall and we thought we could enjoy some interesting sights and weather. Mind you the Travellin Penguin doesn't mind the cold as much as I do but he does like getting into a book that takes place in New York.

The Bookstore is Deborah Meyler's first novel. It was enjoyable if a bit uneven in parts.  Esme is a young English woman who has received a scholarship to do her PhD in Art History at Columbia University. She lives in a small apartment in Manhattan and has fallen in love with a real New York blueblood man who has dashing good looks and pretty much sweeps her off her feet. His name is Mitchell van Leuven.  I won't tell you what kind of man Mitchell is but his character is drawn up very well and readers will definitely have opinions about how they feel about him.

Of course she is so swept away that she becomes pregnant which of course was not in her plans at all. When she then gets dumped she has a myriad of decisions to make. Will she keep the baby? Will she terminate it?  How will she earn money?  How she supports herself in Manhattan is part of what I found a bit uneven in this book.

She gets a job working at The Owl, a second hand bookshop near where she lives. The hours are flexible enough for her to continue attending her art classes, visit museums to study the paintings she loves and try to sort out her on again/off again love for Mitchell.

What I enjoyed the most about this book were the characters who worked in the bookstore. The author based them on people and experiences she had when she worked for 6 years in a New York bookstore.  I also loved the descriptions of New York, especially late at night when it was raining out and the shop workers sat around talking, playing music and enjoying one another's company.

Was the story predictable?  Not entirely but I thought it could be. I also liked the way Esme got on with her life, kept going to classes, studying art, working and continuing her friendships even when her life was falling apart. A lot of novels of this ilk are not quite like that.  No one was going to rock up on a white horse and save her, she was going to save herself although that was a bit of a rocky path.

I won't say anymore as I don't want to spoil it but on a cold day, Travellin Penguin and I enjoyed our warm tracky daks, wrapped up in a doona, with the blinds open, watching the birds and being in New York, sitting in Central Park in the sun, breathing the dust in The Owl and watching other people get on with their lives and watch what decisions they made.  I would be interested in knowing what others thought of this book as I don't know anyone here who has read it.


  1. I haven't read this, but I like your point about the heroine not passively awaiting rescue. It has turned freezing here in Adelaide too - as a last gasp before the dreadful heat, I guess! - I find myself drawn to warm places in books, summer dresses, etc. Of course, in a month or so I shall probably want to read books on the Arctic!

  2. That's funny. I never think of Adelaide as freezing. I couldn't cope with the heat there at all. But enjoy the chilly weather while you can.

  3. We are gasping for the first breath of fall here - probably still a couple of weeks away. I love books set in bookstores, and the New York setting is a bonus. I am so hoping to visit someday. I'll be looking for this one.

    1. I hope you enjoy this book if you find it. It is pretty mainstream so I doubt you'll have any problems. I love northern hemisphere fall. Hope it is a good one but enjoy summer while you still can.

  4. Pam,
    I can't wait to read this! I simply love reading fiction set in NYC, and with a bookstore, too, and a romance! I've wholeheartedly dived into a "pleasure reading" stage for several months now. I just need an escape and a chance to read about other women's problems, and this sounds lovely.


  5. Oh, Pam!
    I also meant to mention that I so enjoy reading your comments on the weather in Tasmania. So interesting!


  6. It is supposed to be Spring here in South Africa and we have had to pull out our Winter woollies. What a great idea it is to get lost in NYC or any other cozy place.
    It is such fun to share your Penguin world. Thank you.

  7. How wonderful to hear from another southern hemisphere-er. It is also lovely to hear from someone who is also in touch with their inner 8 year old. Thank you so much for your visit and comment.


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