The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
Published by Harper Collins on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Psychological, Adult, Historical
A mesmerizingly powerful debut novel about the ways in which past choices can irrevocably define the present—and the bittersweet confrontation of what might have been
1962: It may be the Swinging Sixties in New York, but in Denver it's different: being a single gal over thirty in this city is almost bohemian. Still, thirty-eight-year-old Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She was involved, once—with a doctor named Kevin—but when things didn't work out the way she had hoped, she decided to chart her own path. Now she dedicates herself to the bookstore she runs with her best friend, Frieda, returning home each evening to her cozy apartment. Without a husband expecting dinner, she can enjoy last-minute drinks after work with her friends; without children who need to get ready for school, she can stay up all night reading with her beloved cat, Aslan, by her side.
Then the dreams begin.
1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They live in a picture-perfect home in a suburban area of Denver, close to their circle of friends. It's the ideal place in which to raise their children. Katharyn's world is exactly what Kitty once believed she wanted . . . but it exists only when she sleeps.
At first, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. Even though there is no Frieda, no bookstore, no other familiar face, Kitty becomes increasingly reluctant to open her eyes and abandon Katharyn's alluring life.
But with each visit to her dreamworld, it grows more real. As the lines between the two worlds begin to blur, Kitty faces an uncertain future. What price must she pay to stay? What is the cost of letting go?
I was first drawn to The Bookseller because of its premise. Kitty is in her 30s, managing a bookstore with her best friend, and she leads a contented life with her work as a bookseller and her cozy home and cat. And plenty of time to read.
Then, things start to get a little strange.
She begins to dream of a parallel life: in it, she’s married with three children and her life is entirely different than the one she knows as a bookseller. In fact, the bookstore doesn’t even make up a part of her life in this alternate reality. Her best friend and she aren’t really best friends anymore, and a guy she only talked to once on the phone in her single life reality has become her husband!
WHAT IS GOING ON?
The book takes place in both 1962 and 1963, and bounces back and forth between the two realities. The pace of the book trips along and this was a delightful read for me earlier in the spring of this year. To be honest, I was a bit surprised at what happened to Kitty at the end, and I suppose I applauded the author for that.
I found The Bookseller to be an interesting exploration of the perspective of a single woman living a fulfilled life, considering if she’s missing anything in the way of marriage and family. At the same time, it’s thought-provoking to consider the other side—what freedom and opportunities does a married woman with children miss?
This is a “Sliding Doors” type book and I definitely enjoyed it. This garnered a solid 4 stars from me and I would recommend it for those of you who enjoy a lighter read situated in the earlier time period of the 60s.
No, I won’t be at BEA this year, but what I can do is let you know which books from BEA I’d LOVE to have in my beach bag. The happy news is that I WILL be at ALA in June, so there’s a strong possibility these books could make their way into my seaside tote if they happen to make their way to ALA…
Those of you going to BEA, I hope you have an utterly fabulous time and return with the books you are hoping for. I’m looking forward to encountering some of these same titles in June at ALA, so here’s to all the anticipation and excitement!!
As usual, this weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish. Be sure to link up each week so we can visit your Top Ten!
(drumroll) Here are the books…
[Top 4: Walk on Earth a Stranger, The Marvels, The Secret Chord, Passenger]
The Complete List
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson [Rae Carson. That’s all I have to say.]
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Goodbye, Stranger by Rebecca Stead
The Marvels by Brian Selznick [Brian Selznick is an auto-buy author. End of story.]
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks [So excited about a new release from Brooks!!]
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken [I’m really going crazy over that cover and this book’s premise…]
Which of these are on your list for your beach bag this summer? Are you planning on snagging any of these at BEA, if you are going? How about ALA??