As with many galleys I end up with, I thought this book was a different book. However, I am glad to have read this one and for a debut novel it was really well written and I mostly enjoyed it. I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley and received no compensation in return for my honest opinion of the book.
The Bookstore starts and ends with great potential, but never quite lives up to it. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the setting of the book, but there was just something missing from it. I’m not sure if it was the writing style, lack of a finite conclusion (even though I did like how it ended) or something else completely, but the entire time I was reading I couldn’t help feeling as if something were missing.
My instinct is that it was not the writing, Meyler did a great job creating believable characters and a readable story and for a galley the copyediting was pretty far advanced. I also felt that Meyler did a great job writing a British character in New York City. There were enough things pointed out by Esme, the protagonist, that a non-New Yorker would point out. However, Esme did grate on my nerves after a while. A part of this had to do with the character’s age and the other portion has to do with her naiveté. And yet there were a few times when I couldn’t help but hold my breath because Meyler tricked me into believing Esme wasn’t as ineffective as I thought:
“I know I will regret this, I know that worthy heroines in Regency romances never say yes when there is any doubt as to the state of the hero’s heart, but I am made of flesh, not words.”
I mean, of course I was going to love that line – it’s as close to a Jane Austen shout out as one can get without saying I LOVE JANE AUSTEN 😀 Plus, I could definitely see this as a modern interpretation of one of Austen’s (or any timeless) romance story.
Aside from Esme’s indecisiveness the only other real problem I had with the novel was the ending. And it is the same problem I’ve had with a lot of stories recently, the ending wasn’t succinctly wrapped up in a happily ever after, but more in a happily for now. I get these and I actually quite enjoy them, but for some reason they’ve just left me frustrated than satisfied. Maybe it’s just a phase, but for some reason I’ve not been able to spare the energy worrying about my fictional character’s future lives. And funnily enough there was a line in the novel which pegged it:
“‘But all photographs are sad,’ says Stella. ‘They make us pay attention to the fact that time is passing that nothing lasts.'”
It’s a good thing I doubt I’ll ever stop reading, but the fact I’m tying these lines together makes me wonder if I might be planning a hiatus sometime in the near future.
Recommendation: It’s a fun quick read and could be attractive to many different types of readers. I enjoyed it and can imagine many people I know who would also enjoy it.
Opening Line: “I, Esme Garland, do not approve of mess.”
Closing LIne: “We are listening to the music, as we did then, and looking out again from our glowing little jewel of a shop to the drenching summer rain, which washes all things new.” (Whited out.)