I just finished reading a galley of THE BOOKSTORE by Deborah Meyler. I read it in digital form, something I rarely do. What a find! All of you booklover’s out there, this one’s for you.
Esme Garland finds herself with a PHD scholarship to Columbia University in NYC. She’s come from England. She’s living in a small apartment on Broadway, and loving life. She’s fallen in love with a great guy. He’s from a really well-to-do old family, he’s gorgeous, smart, and fun to be with. Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what’s wrong here? Nothing until Esme finds herself in a bit of a jam: she’s pregnant. How could this happen? There was only one tiny opportunity. They’ve been so careful. That’s all it takes. Now what?
Mitchell van Leuven is the boyfriend/father-to-be. When Esme decides to tell him about the baby, he says he has news too; and promptly breaks it off with her. This before she can even tell him about the baby. What an ass!
Esme is determined to keep the baby, even though it doesn’t fit into her equation. She decides she needs a part time job. The Owl is a shabby, used bookshop on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Esme has spent countless hours browsing its shelves when one day she notices a help wanted sign in the dingy window. She applies then and there. She tells George the owner that she is pregnant and has no work permit. He tells her she’s perfect for the position. ( when you meet the other employees you’ll understand)
I love this bookstore. I have thought about it since I started reading the book. I will think about it forever. It is the epitome of what a used bookstore in NYC should be. And the characters, oh the characters. They are amazing. There are homeless guys who get paid to help put books outside each day. And strange and wonderful readers and collectors arrive daily to chat with the booksellers or just browse. George is a green freak. He eats green, thinks green, and lives green, even to the point of no Thanksgiving turkey, not even tofu turkey. With his heart of gold and his knowledge of books, he’s perfect. And Luke loves playing his guitar as well as playing with the books.
I love Esme’s tenacity. She is bound to go it alone. Then, low and behold, Mitchell shows up again. Meyler drags us along into the lives of the super-rich. She allows us a seldom-seen glimpse of the workings of the minds of people who have forgotten what it is to be kind, or even civil, simply because of their wealth. Entitlement.
But we are brought also into the worlds of the super-poor. The street people who live hand to mouth. The people that have been forgotten by their families.
The sort of kindness that exists throughout this quirky little bookstore family is the kind that means the most. After all, the definition of family is diverse.
I think you are going to fall in love with this novel. If you love books, and love old bookstores, this is for you! And lucky us, Meyler is working on a new novel, right this moment.
Deborah Meyler was born in Manchester, England, but came to NYC and worked in a real used bookstore for six years. So she’s definitely got it down. This is her research. And I loved it. She has a Masters of Philosophy with her thesis on American fiction. I didn’t know such a thing existed. But how cool is this!