I was stalled about 40-50 pages near the end for two reasons. First of all, I did not want this book to end, I love this author's writing style tremen...moreI was stalled about 40-50 pages near the end for two reasons. First of all, I did not want this book to end, I love this author's writing style tremendously. I truly believe she could breathe life into every object, every human, every feeling and every action she describes. Nothing fails or escapes her pen. I wanted to keep reading the book non-stop. I also heard that she spent 10 years between her last book and The Goldfinch, I'm afraid I can't wait that long for another work of hers.
The other reason: I hadn't been able to put the book down for more than a few minutes since I started. I was actually late one day for my daughter's lesson since I could not bear not being able to continue reading while waiting for her in the car, so I drove back to my house after discovering the Kindle was forgotten. I was really worried that she would blow the whole book by giving it a wrong or mediocre ending. I lingered, and dawdled, and prolonged as much as I can... Let just say, I can finally breathe now that the book is finished, but it's still a sad situation that most seekers of great writing will understand. The ending was so good that I read it three times.(less)
There's no such thing as a used book. Or there's no such thing as a book if it's not being used.
As most others who requested this book, I have a soft...moreThere's no such thing as a used book. Or there's no such thing as a book if it's not being used.
As most others who requested this book, I have a soft spot in my heart for books about reading and bookstores, and this is a great book for bibliophiles. It helps if you already have some knowledge about the second-hand book trade, books, writers and artists, because there will be lots of references that will make most readers scratch their heads… So, if you like simple plot-driven books without any concerns of prose, literary, art, or even music references, leave this book alone.
Esme Garland was from England. She’s now living in New York working on a PhD in Art History with a scholarship from Columbia. Unfortunately, her taste in men is not as sophisticated as her taste in arts and literatures, and she accidentally has gotten pregnant by the most unlikeable man (rich, attractive, blue blood, tanned…just, very self-absorbed), who did not want to have anything to do with the baby, or Esme. So, she was left alone, pregnant, stressed (from school) and lost (in life), although she has decided to keep the baby.
Fortunately for her, she found herself a part time job at a second hand bookstore called The Owl at Upper West Side during this difficult time of her life. Ah, a bookstore staffed with workers who are well read is simply more than just a bookstore. The staff at The Owl are quirky yet human. From the homeless men that occasionally help taking carts and shelves out in the morning and bring them in before the shop closes, a health and organic buff who knows books like no others (George), a guitarist who knows music and it’s healing quality as well as books (Luke), to a customer that always visits with a towel on his head, they accepted Esme as one of their own. One of them we realized has special feelings for Esme before she herself did. Simply said, The Owl did not only satisfy Esme’s financial need, but also her emotional ones. It’s the best thing that has happened to her, other than her child, that is. The bookstore also taught Esme a thing or two about family, about love, about life...and about choices, especially when her finance suddenly reappeared in her life.
As a debut novel, I find the writing quite impressive and sometimes more ornate than I expected. However, everyone who knows me understand what a sucker I am for beautiful writing and quotes that make me think. This book succeeded in both regards. The plot is a bit weak and Esme's love for her boyfriend is a bit over the top, but believable, and acceptable for a new author who did brilliantly with characters and prose. The many takes of Esme on American life and behavior from her British standpoint was fun to read as well. Unfortunately, I cannot quote from the book too much since the copy I read was a pre-release one, but one scene that still lingers in my mind long after I finished the book was when Esme was going on a book call with Luke to buy all books from an old lady:
“These books…,” she begins, and stops. I am frightened; for her, for myself decades from now, struggling to retain dignity with two strangers as they take away my books. I can see the straight line to her grave, to mine…. “They are all my life. These books are all my life.”
It’s hard to not feel emotional reading these lines. Looking at all the books on my shelf and my Kindle…I can’t help but visualizing a straight line to my grave as well. I will be looking forward to each and every one of Meyler’s new books.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy.(less)
I was in the middle of several "My family was a toxic dump, yet I turned out amazing" books, and wanted a break from all the negativity and dysfunctio...moreI was in the middle of several "My family was a toxic dump, yet I turned out amazing" books, and wanted a break from all the negativity and dysfunction. I desperately needed a book with normal and happy people. This book, indeed, was a fast and somewhat happy read, and the people was somewhat normal, as normal as the people in yours, or my neighborhood.
As a realtor of a quaint New England town near the North Shores, Hildy Good has been a top-seller for many years. She's 60, divorced, kids grown, lives comfortably alone and makes good money. People think she's a witch (which is not true), since she knows everything and everyone quite well, not to mention that she's also the descendant of a witch that was hung at the Salem's Witch Trial. She could just read people and houses very well by observing and noticing clues. Her friends and family also think she's an alcoholic (this might be true,) although she constantly denies it since she could function quite normally after a glass or two. She's a fun, humorous, witty, no-nonsense and likable narrator.
This book reminded me how much I enjoy reading character-driven books. The last few that I enjoyed were The Darlings, The World Without You, The Snow Child and The Death of Bees. There are the rich McCallisters, who just moved in. Brian is busy and so much older than his young, lonely and infertile wife, Rebecca. There's Frank, who is the town garbage man and fix-anything guy....whom Hilda had a special relationship with. There's Peter, who's a shrink with an office upstairs whom Hilda and her friends babysat when younger... There are Patch and Cassie with their special-need son, Jake. I wished the author had described their physical appearance a bit more. The image of Hildy in my visual mind is blurry, although I know her quite well now. However, somewhere in the book, we did learn that Frank looks like a gnome, and Rebecca is skinny and elegant. The author used the following poem to describe her:
"I knew a woman, lovely in her bones......(She moved in circles, and those circles moved)....
A quick and easy read, and the unexpected twist at the end was a surprise.
For those who are interested in my "My family was a toxic dump, yet I turned out amazing" books. I'm also in the middle of: "Wild" and "With or Without You." I just finished "The Death of Bees."(less)