Thursday, October 08, 2015

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson ~ Book Review

It's 1962 and Kitty Miller is settled and happy in her life as a small book shop owner with her best friend, Frieda.  Though at 38 she is still single she has for the most part come to terms with that and enjoys the control and freedom she has to do what she wants when she wants.  Her and Frieda are close as business partners and best friends and she has a strong relationship with her parents.  Life is good.  But when she starts dreaming of another life, one where she is Katharyn with a perfect husband and adorable children in a lovely home in suburbia she chalks it up to her old life's desires which she thought she let go of .  It is the perfect life she once held out hopes for.  The dreams are so real and she enjoys them at first but when they start to happen consistently and start to reveal layers of imperfections and challenges the lines begin to blur for Kitty and she has to figure out what is reality and what is dream.

This book had a lot of draws for me.  I totally picked it up for it's cover and title and then the 1960's setting drew me in as did the alternate life story of what might have been.  I really enjoyed it but am having a hard time writing a coherent and articulate review as there is so much to the story and I don't want to give anything away.

 Both of Kitty's worlds were interesting and I couldn't help but be fascinated with her confusion each time as she entered into the dream world.  She had to figure things out on the fly which would be totally disconcerting for her and of course her reactions would be  confusing for the dream family.  I really liked how the writing never left me confused as to what reality Kitty/Katharyn was in and that allowed me to really get into the story of the lives of the character(s).  As Katharyn's story developed there were some aspects to it that involved one of the kids that  for me was of great interest because of my education background.  That was a development I didn't know was in there and I enjoyed reading that part of the story as it 's history is something I 've always been interested in. (I can't say more without giving things away so I'll just have to leave it at that.)

The 60's aspect was well written.  The descriptions of everything from lifestyle, to the decor, the clothing, the political climate to the attitudes and thoughts towards different things such as women's roles in life was all historically correct.  It reminded of why I chose the field I did.  The one thing I didn't like about the story was the one explicit scene in it.  I groaned inwardly when it came up wondering if the novel would be over run with them and if I would end up laying it aside.  To me the explicitness was totally unnecessary and the scene could have been told to give me the idea of the character's feelings at the time without describing the whole act to me.  Thankfully that was the one and only occurrence and it ended up being an interesting and unique story,

I gave it an 8.5/10

Reading Challenge Goals Met: A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit (Denver, Colorado), a book with bad reviews (this one had some mixed reviews), a book by an author I've never read, a book published this year, a book by a female author, a book chosen entirely for it's cover

Linked to Semicolon Saturday Review of Books


Barbara H. said...

I used to follow a blogger named Cynthia Swanson, and at first I thought she had written a book! But this is a different Cynthia. Interesting premise. That's too bad about the explicit scene. :-/

Susanne said...

Barbara: I totally thought it was that blogger too and then when that scene came up I looked it up cause I didn't recall anything to hint at that in her blog I discovered it wasn't. And you're right, it's totally not the same gal.

Faith said...

i saw a book review on this same book and it was a negative one so i never did borrow it from the im wondering if maybe i will give it a try based on YOUR review. it is sad to me when authors have to include such explicit scenes. ugh. Thanks for the review!!

Karen said...

I'm going to check the library for this one. I like the era that it takes place, the fact that it's in Denver would be interesting, and the story sounds intriguing. Disappointing that the author had to throw in gratuitous stuff. I can overlook it, but still:(