I am always drawn to books about books. Fiction, non-fiction, whatever-I just love to read about them. So when I saw that Deborah Meyler's The Bookstore was set in an independent book shop in New York, I was convinced that it would be right up my street.
The Bookstore charts Esme Garland's year as a PhD student at Columbia University. Her plans go askew when she fall in love with wealthy Mitchell van Leuven, a strong, sexually charged American. Esme quickly finds herself pregnant and her life in New York looks set to change.
Determined to make her own money, Esme begins to work at The Owl. A bookstore with an idealist outlook, The Owl welcomes everyone-from collectors to browsers, academics to the homeless. As she seeks solace within the confines of the shop Esme learns about herself, the books that surround her and what it truly means to love. Emotive and enticing, I found The Bookstore a real page-turner.
There were times where I found Esme to be frustrating as a character, and I wanted to tell her to grow up and develop a back bone. However, I did also feel empathy towards her, particularly as the story developed. My favourite characters were the staff and homeless people who frequented The Owl. Captivatingly eccentric, they were delightful outsiders to the high-fashion, high-tempo New York lifestyle, perfectly juxtaposed kooky characters against the city backdrop. The Owl is almost a character within itself. A warm, safe oasis of pre-loved books offering shelter and companionship, The Owl is presented as a reliable best friend, a haven for those in need.
My main gripe with The Bookstore is that it sometimes veered towards pretentious and indulgent, although I can forgive it that. Any negatives were outweighed by Meyler's ability to capture the importance of a book to a booklover, the promise offered between the covers, the endless scope for escape. This book encapsulates the emotions I feel for reading; the passion it evokes deep in my soul.
The Bookstore is out now, published by Bloomsbury Reader.
With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.