Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Bookseller: A Novel by Cynthia Swanson

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

A mesmerizingly powerful debut novel about the ways in which past choices can irrevocably define the present—and the bittersweet confrontation of what might have been.

1962: It may be the Swinging Sixties in New York, but in Denver it’s different: being a single gal over thirty in this city is almost bohemian. Still, thirty-eight-year-old Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She was involved, once—with a doctor named Kevin—but when things didn’t work out the way she had hoped, she decided to chart her own path. Now she dedicates herself to the bookstore she runs with her best friend, Frieda, returning home each evening to her cozy apartment. Without a husband expecting dinner, she can enjoy last-minute drinks after work with her friends; without children who need to get ready for school, she can stay up all night reading with her beloved cat, Aslan, by her side.

Then the dreams begin.

1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They live in a picture-perfect home in a suburban area of Denver, close to their circle of friends. It’s the ideal place in which to raise their children. Katharyn’s world is exactly what Kitty once believed she wanted . . . but it exists only when she sleeps.

At first, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. Even though there is no Frieda, no bookstore, no other familiar face, Kitty becomes increasingly reluctant to open her eyes and abandon Katharyn’s alluring life.

But with each visit to her dreamworld, it grows more real. As the lines between the two worlds begin to blur, Kitty faces an uncertain future. What price must she pay to stay? What is the cost of letting go?

my thoughts:

I really liked the movie Sliding Doors (in spite of my dislike for Gwyneth Paltrow), so when I read the summary for The Bookseller (which sounded like a version of Sliding Doors in book form) I knew I had to read it.  Because, who hasn't ever pondered the question "What if?"when reflecting on their past.  Like, what if you had said yes to the cute waiter you bumped into on campus the next day - would you be happily married to him now with two kids and a house in the suburbs?  Or what if you had chosen medical school over graduate school and literary studies - would you be a successful doctor with a thriving practice?  We all have our moments when we wonder "what if" we had chosen differently - how different would our lives be?  Its a question that Cynthia Swanson explores in her new book, The Bookseller.

Its 1962 in Denver, and Kitty is a single woman who owns a bookshop with her best friend, Frieda.  She lives a life filled with the freedoms of being independent and carefree - no husband or kids to care for.  Of course, she's also viewed as being a spinster and "different" - at least through society's judgmental eyes.  So, when Kitty starts having vivid dreams about an alternate life where she is called Katharyn and is married with three children, well, she starts to look forward to going to sleep at night.  In the parallel universe, its 1963 and her life appears to be perfect on paper.  She's got love, a family, and a gaggle of friends by her side.  Katharyn is living the life Kitty believes she wants for real.  Except, that her picture perfect life isn't so perfect.  The more Kitty visits her dreamworld, the more she begins to understand that everyone is riddled with difficulties and that nothing is like it seems.  The longer she spends as Katharyn, the more confused she gets as to whats real and what isn't. 

Talk about conflicted!  Kitty/Katharyn has to decide which life she wants to live.  Of course, choosing will come with a hefty price.  Ack!  Decisions, decisions, decisions.  I absolutely enjoyed getting lost in Kitty and Katharyn's two worlds.  Swanson has written a terrific story that is a true delight to read.  There's so much more to share about the story, but I really don't want to spoil anything for you.  I really do believe its a book you need to read for yourself to fully experience Kitty as Katharyn.  I will tell you that if you are expecting a book about a bookshop and books, then don't pick up this book.  This is a story about the choices we make in life and the opportunity to change those choices.  Its fun, interesting, and a bit sci-fi - all of which make fore quite a great read.  I would definitely recommend this book to fans of women's fiction - you will LOVE this story!!

To find out what other bloggers have to say, here's the link to TLC Book Tours schedule for: The Bookseller
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!


Brandie said...

I'm intrigued now! Great review, Nadia. If you enjoyed this, maybe you'll enjoy Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Alternates between two possible life choices and very good!

I'm going to have to check this one out. Thanks for posting about it!

Nadia said...

Brandie, I have that one on my TBR list. I read about it on your blog and thought it sounded like a fun read, so I'm really looking forward to it. Thanks! As for The Bookseller, I think you'll enjoy it. Check it out when you can!

Lark said...

I was hooked by the cover and the title...but your review makes me want to read it even more. I love the idea of a parallel life...the life you could've led...if. Makes for a great premise.

Nadia said...

Lark, I know what you mean - I love the cover and the title, too :) I think its cool to wonder about "what if" sometimes, so books that explore that are some of my favorites. Definitely check this one out - you will LOVE it!!

Ti said...

You are so right, this really had nothing to do with her being a bookseller. Rather misleading title. I was underwhelmed by the story.

Nadia said...

Ti, I know! Its so weird that they used that one thing about her as the title. Very misleading. They should have called it The Woman With Two Lives or something. I remember reading your post about it and how you were disappointed with it. So, I went into the book not looking for books and just focused on her dreams. Seemed to work for me, because I really enjoyed it.

Lark said...

Hey, I just put this book on hold at the library. Should get it in two weeks. :) Don't you love having a good book to look forward to? Thanks again for the recommendation.

Nadia said...

Lark, that's awesome! I can't wait to find out what you think of it :) Enjoy when you get it!! And yes, I love having a book to look forward to - like the Murakami Trilogy of the Rat coming out later this summer. Its actually his first two books published here in the US for the first time, but they are part of his famed trilogy and I can't wait to read them all :)

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I love seeing readers get so excited about a book - it makes me want to run out and pick up that book for myself right away!

Thanks for being a part of the tour.

Lisa said...

I do love Sliding Doors and the premise of the difference one choice would make. Sounds like a book I'd really enjoy.