Thursday, May 16, 2019

Review: The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

Independent bookstores are, as a rule, wonderful and magical places. They're all different, but no matter how different, they generally evoke a similar feeling in the readers who love them. They are a refuge, a home, a quieting. The people who work in them have to love them too, but in a different way than the readers who wander in to visit and browse and buy. The owners and employees see behind the welcome to the stresses that accompany any business: the costs, the work, and the balancing act that is stocking the store. Katherine Reay's newest novel, set in the fictional Printed Letter Bookshop, shows the magic and importance of the small bookshop in the hearts and lives of the women who work there.

Madeline Cullen is up for partner at her high powered legal firm when her Aunt Maddie dies of cancer. Madeline had spent one wonderful summer working with her Aunt Maddie in the Printed Letter Bookshop before a rift between her father and her aunt caused her to lose touch with Maddie. But Maddie never forgot her beloved niece, leaving the bookshop and all its inventory to Madeline. Despite her good memories, Madeline is certain she will sell the store and its contents because her life is on a different track, at least until life deals her another blow. The idea of selling the store devastates the store's two employees, good friends of Maddie's, Janet and Claire. Both of them are struggling emotionally and the store and their jobs in it are their touchstones, ones they desperately want to hold onto, even if it means cooperating with the niece who, to their minds, abandoned her aunt, their dear friend. And as the women open up to each other, coming together to try to pull the store out of the red, each of them starts to heal in her own way from the emotional hurt that is holding her down.

The novel is told in alternating perspectives from all three women. Madeline and Janet tell their own stories in first person while Claire's is told in the third person. The revolving narratives allow the reader to see the evolution of the three women's friendship, their misunderstandings, their fears, and what motivates their actions, as well as the things they keep private from each other, especially in the beginning. The bookshop gives each of them the chance to start over again, for Madeline to come to terms with her lack of passion for the law and her desire for a settled home, for Janet to acknowledge and accept from the fallout and unhappiness after a divorce she herself precipitated, and for Claire to adjust to and push back at being shut out of her teenage daughter's life and the loneliness of a marriage with a constantly traveling husband. The beginning of the novel is a little difficult to get into, each of the characters coming across as standoffish not only to each other but also the reader, and several of the later plot twists are entirely predictable but Madeline, Janet, and Claire's growing relationship is well done and the book succeeds as a cozy, gentle read about renewal, forgiveness, and second chances.

For more information about Katherine Reay and the book, check our her author website, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, look at the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours and publisher Thomas Nelson for sending me a copy of this books for review.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like such a good book about friendship. It would be a nice gift for a friend... or myself. Obviously. Ha! Thanks for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours


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