Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Katherine Reay - The Printed Letter Bookshop

One of Madeline Cullen's happiest childhood memories is of working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened Madeline's heart toward her once-treasured aunt--and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.
While Madeline intends to sell the shop as quickly as possible, the Printed Letter's two employees have other ideas. Reeling from a recent divorce, Janet finds sanctuary within the books and within the decadent window displays she creates. Claire, though quieter than the acerbic Janet, feels equally drawn to the daily rhythms of the shop and its loyal clientele, finding a renewed purpose within its walls.
When Madeline's professional life falls apart, and a handsome gardener upends all her preconceived notions, she questions her plans and her heart. Has she been too quick to dismiss her aunt's beloved shop? And even if she has, the women's best combined efforts may be too little, too late.

Comment: I got interested in this book because of the title, I admit. I like books about bookshops or libraries in a general sense but sometimes the blurb might dissuade me...which didn't happen in this case and as soon as it was possible, I added it to my June's monthly list.

In this book we meet three main characters, obviously all in different stages of their lives, as they get together after the person they have in common dies and leaves the bookshop to one of them. Madeline is the niece and heir but she's at a moment in her life where she is still doubting everything. The partnership at her law firm suddenly doesn't happen and an ex of her is named partner so Madeline quits and decides to solve the bookshop issue as well. She wasn't counting on Claire and Janet, the two older employees who have known her aunt and who feel she wouldn't fit in. However, bot have personal issues to deal with... can these three find a way to unite their efforts and save the bookshop?

I liked this book enough but I have to say there were parts of it which felt rather slow and a little boring.This doesn't mean the story isn't interesting, because it is, but I think the author intended to make this a book about emotions and dealing with problems and some of the personal issues the characters face took a lot of page time and it wasn't always as thrilling to read about the same subject for so long.

There are three main characters and the story is told by them all, in alternate entries, although not always in first person.
Madeline inherits the bookshop when her aunt dies and she is surprised because her aunt and her father, siblings, weren't on speaking terms for a reason Madeline believes she knows. As the plot gets to the end we discover something else which explains this but by then Madeline is already invested in the bookshop. I liked her simply because she was in a bad spot, personally speaking, and she was confused about what her priorities should be. I wanted to see her triumph and find a purpose... there was also a bit of romance going her way.

Then we have Janet, an of the three she was the impetuous one, slightly older, had a divorce but clearly still loves her ex and it takes some time for the clues to make sense on how they separated. I liked that she wanted to change her attitude, he wanted to feel good about her life and wanted to make peace with the things in her past... I also understand how she might feel depressed or sad or lacking control of her emotions but some of her entries were a bit repetitive...

The other woman is Claire, mother of two, a wife who left her job to stay at home but her relationship with her children has gotten worse as they get older. They are both teenagers and her oldest daughter will go to college soon so Claire occupies her days with the shop and other small things, feeling sh hasn't enough time when necessary. I liked the fact her marriage is solid and that her personality is a captivating one. I would say her issues with the daughter seemed to take too much plot time but it gets to a pint where it starts to make sense.

The goal of this book, as one can imagine, is to keep the bookshop open and these three have to work together to make it so. The book does touch some serious issues and the more mundane things of finances and mortgages and owning businesses are detailed parts of this book, which can make it seem a bit too realistic, and it does feel as if there's a little lacking of some more casual or carefree scenes to counterbalance the less than good things going on. I did get the impression the author wanted to write something serious, perhaps for the reader to focus on the power of believing in yourself and in allowing others to help you so that your life can make sense again. For me, though, this also came with some bleak scenes/situations and they gave the book a certain unappealing tone sometimes.

Well, not everything is bad, there's a lot of talk of books (many I have read) and book references, some cute or silly scenes here and there (not enough in my opinion) and there is a bit of romance, there's some sort of redemption, there's growing up and understanding peace of mind matters quite a lot... the end is positive fo certain but I kind of wished for more details, or longer scenes on the good aspects. I see there's a sequel but I'm still debating on wanting to read it or not....
Grade: 7/10

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