|Title: The Bookseller
Author: Cynthia Swanson
Published: March 3, 2015
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Synopsis: A provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel reminiscent of Sliding Doors, The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams.
Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . .
Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped. Then the dreams begin.
Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It’s everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps.
Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn? As the lines between her worlds begin to blur, Kitty must figure out what is real and what is imagined. And how do we know where that boundary lies in our own lives?
*** I received and advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not affected my opinion. ***
I really want to say that I enjoyed this book. The Bookseller is one of those books where there is a lot to like but I still had a hard time completely connecting with it. It had great characters and beautiful writing but the magical realism and sudden twist in the plot at the end didn't work for me.
However, there were some things that I didn't quite like about the writing style, or should I say world-building. I really don't want to give anything away because of spoilers but there was just something about how it got to the ending that I didn't enjoy. About halfway through the book, the main character realized she was uncertain about which world was real (not a spoiler, it's in the synopsis). But instead of searching for validation or clues she just goes about her business. Through a process of awkward questions and info-dumping she learns about her life then out of nowhere the realization occurs. If there were more clues of mystery to the book that would have been one thing, but it was just so sudden.
So unfortunately for me The Bookseller was one of those books that started out really strong but I found myself not really enjoying it by the end. It should have been a solid 8 star read for me. It had great characters and beautiful prose, it tugged at the heartstrings and was quite thought-provoking. But because of the unexpected ending that seemed completely against what I had spent my time investing in and the magical realism that isn't my thing I ended up as just an okay read for me.
Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. If you are a fan of magical realism or literary fiction then check this book out. It has a lot going for it including likable and interesting characters and lyrical writing. If you don't mind an unexpected twist and prefer character-driven stories over plot-driven this would be a great choice for you.
Have you read The Bookseller? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!