Review: The Bookstore

The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler

A witty, sharply observed debut novel about a young woman who finds unexpected salvation while working in a quirky used bookstore in Manhattan.Impressionable and idealistic, Esme Garland is a young British woman who finds herself studying art history in New York. She loves her apartment and is passionate about the city and her boyfriend; her future couldn’t look brighter. Until she finds out that she’s pregnant.

Esme’s boyfriend, Mitchell van Leuven, is old-money rich, handsome, successful, and irretrievably damaged. When he dumps Esme—just before she tries to tell him about the baby—she resolves to manage alone. She will keep the child and her scholarship, while finding a part-time job to make ends meet. But that is easier said than done, especially on a student visa.

The Owl is a shabby, second-hand bookstore on the Upper West Side, an all-day, all-night haven for a colorful crew of characters: handsome and taciturn guitar player Luke; Chester, who hyperventilates at the mention of Lolita; George, the owner, who lives on protein shakes and idealism; and a motley company of the timeless, the tactless, and the homeless. The Owl becomes a nexus of good in a difficult world for Esme—but will it be enough to sustain her? Even when Mitchell, repentant and charming, comes back on the scene?

A rousing celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them, The Bookstore is also a story about emotional discovery, the complex choices we all face, and the accidental inspirations that make a life worth the reading.

As soon as I read the blurb for this book, I wanted to read it.  I wanted to love it, but I was left with feelings of ambivalence.

Lets start with what I liked.  I loved the book references.  I am a total bookworm and loved the integral part books play here.  And, The Owl sounds like the book store of my dreams.  I identified with Esme as she struggled to settle into living in New York.  Though, I’m not lucky enough to have been to New York, let alone live there, I was about Esme’s age when I moved to London and the struggles that come with moving away from home really resonated with me.

I loved the descriptions within this book, I felt like I was strolling around New York with Esme and it definitely made the book come alive.  That, and the way Meyler vividly described the book store were among my favourite parts.

However, there was something missing.  Some mystery ingredient that stopped this book being amazing.  That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy reading this book, because I did.  I just didn’t love it.  It is still a good read, perfect for a cosy evening.

I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


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