When Esme Garland leaves England for a Ph.D. scholarship at Columbia, in New York, her life is mapped out before her.What she doesn’t count on is how her life is thrown into chaos after she meets Mitchell, a professor at a private school, and a member of a wealthy family. Then when she becomes pregnant, and when Mitchell walks out on her, I said to myself: “Good riddance to bad rubbish.”

She finds a part-time job at The Owl, a neighborhood bookstore, and soon becomes immersed in the life of the staff, the customers, and the neighborhood. It is a small, untidy place chock full of books that almost topple, but lend their own special ambience to the place. George is the owner, and Luke is a laconic assistant who slowly becomes a good friend. It is a neighborhood place for homeless people and other eccentric individuals who frequent it, not necessarily to buy books, but to linger.

Just as Esme starts to find her own niche, and has settled into her routines, Mitchell wants back into her life.

But can she trust him, since he left before by saying he didn’t want her? Is he playing some kind of game that has more to do with his family than her? How will his demands on her change her plan for her life? And how will she resolve these issues?

I found it difficult to put up with Esme’s inability to see through Mitchell, and I especially could not stand him, his behavior, or his attitudes. There were so many red flags that I, the reader, could see…but naturally, the characters have their own perspective. The fact that they were all “people” at whom I could yell when they did not do as I thought they should, and the fact that I regularly tried to “warn” them of pitfalls, was definitely a testament to the strength of the characters. Even when I didn’t like what they were doing, I could not stop reading.

I liked how the true importance of the shop in the lives of the people who entered its doors stood out as a reminder that, despite the transitory nature of bookstores in this day and age, this particular shop was precious to those who loved it.

I liked how the story ended, and even though The Bookstore was more about the relationships of the people that came through the place, sometimes settling in for a bit, it was also a backdrop for their lives and their friendships. 4.0 stars.


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