Saturday, August 1, 2015

Book Review: "The Bookseller" by Cynthia Swanson

"The Bookseller" by Cynthia Swanson
First published in 2015
336 pages
My rating: 3 out of 5
Image from Goodreads

I picked this novel up for two reasons: it's set in my home state of Colorado in one of my favorite time periods, the 1960s, and it has the word "book" in the title. How could I not give it a try?!

Overall, though, I was a bit underwhelmed by this story about what might have been, about grief, family and unforeseen challenges.

The year is 1962. Kitty is a single 38-year-old who owns a struggling bookstore in Denver with her best friend. She's fairly content with her life and resigned to being the slightly eccentric old maid, but when Kitty begins having some extremely realistic dreams in which she is Katharyn, married mother of three, she starts to think about how her life could've turned out differently. As she gradually begins to prefer her other life, in the big modern house with the handsome and devoted husband and the three adorable little kids, the line between dreams and reality becomes blurred. Eventually Kitty will have to choose -- face the harsh realities of her real life or live in the fictional world of her dreams?

While it's true that the story is not quite as straightforward as it seems, the plot  -- even with its revelations and twists -- didn't really wow me. I understand the message Swanson's work is meant to convey, and the writing was adequate, and it was a really fast read, but "The Bookseller" was just ok for me. Eventually everything comes together, but for most of the book we're just traveling back and forth with Kitty/Katharyn between her two lives while additional plot elements are slowly added to the mix. The whole thing was really kind of dull.

I wouldn't necessarily dissuade you from reading "The Bookseller" if you're already planning on it, but I wouldn't recommend this book either. There are so many books out there just waiting to be devoured, and it's always a bit of a bummer to read one that's "meh" (even if it is about a woman who owns a bookstore and is set in the best state in the Union) when you could've been reading one that's spectacular.


  1. Hi I’ve been loving your posts so far :) I nominated you for the Liebster Award. You can find it here:

  2. Another blogger I follow recently gave this the thumbs down, too. Bummer since the premise sounds interesting. I hope your next read is better!

    1. It was! Right after this I devoured "I'll Give You the Sun" by Jandy Nelson in two days and I loved it!


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