By Susan Coll
Publication Date: August 2, 2022
Sophie Bernstein owns an independent bookstore in Washington DC, but she’s not sure how long she can continue with it. Grieving her recently departed husband, despairing over the state of society, and fearing her son will never find his footing, she’s ready to move into the hidden nook in her store. Everything seems to be beyond her, from retrieving her car from the impound lot, to not being able to figure out a dating app or the store’s vacuum cleaner, to the day-to-day running of the store; she’s forgotten why she found such joy in her business in the first place.
Clemi has recently been promoted to events coordinator at the bookstore, with all the drama that entails. She doesn’t think she’s remotely able to handle life, much less the demands of the store. But she stands firm on the booking for renowned and reviled poet Raymond Chaucer, despite Sophie’s fear of violent repercussions if the event goes forward (after all, there must be a reason every other bookstore in the country canceled him).
Over one rainy summer week, both Clemi and Sophie will learn what’s important, what’s not, and why the bookstore is so important.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but I’m not a big fan of this book. I blame it on the fact that I was never able to connect with the MC. Sophie isn’t portrayed like any 54-year-old woman of my acquaintance, but more like what a Gen Z might think a middle-aged woman is like. I have no idea how old the author is and I’m not trying to suggest she’s a Gen Z, I’m saying that I’ve never met anyone almost my age so full of angst and neuroses that she’s nearly incapable of functioning. Mid-50s should not translate to not knowing how to use tech or operate a vacuum. I’d understand if it was due to her grief, but that didn’t seem to be the case. It got to the point I wondered how she managed to run a successful business for so long.
Most of the action takes place in Sophie or Clemi’s heads. It’s all thinking – and while I love a good character-driven novel, so little actually happened to move the plot along that I found myself skimming to find action. Raymond Chaucer, despite being an unlikable character, was a relief from the constant barrage of anxiety from the female MCs. Plus, he was kind of fun. Heck, I would have liked more from the homeless guy that lived outside the store. I really enjoyed his brief appearance.
Finally, at about the 75 or 80% mark, things started happening. And when events got moving, it was like an avalanche. From the NPR interview to the final scenes with everything running amok in the bookstore, I really enjoyed the story. I wish the entire book had been like that – my rating would have been much higher.
In the end, I rated this book 2.5 stars. ⭐⭐+
Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Muse for providing the ARC of this book. I’ve left my review voluntarily and honestly.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.
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