Impressionable and idealistic, Esme Garland is a young British woman who finds herself studying art history in New York. She loves her apartment and is passionate about the city and her boyfriend; her future couldn’t look brighter. Until she finds out that she’s pregnant.
Meyler, Deborah (2013). [Genre: Contemporary Fiction]
Thanks to Gallery Books for providing an advance copy of this title for review. I received no other form of compensation and all opinions are my own.I love books about books. And I just recently watched You've Got Mail for the first time ever and it got me into a complete bookstorish haze, so a novel where the main characters works in a second hand bookstore in New York sounded perfect.
From the word go, The Bookstore is beautifully written. Meyer obviously has an astounding vocabulary and an in-depth knowledge of art and literature, which she puts to good use. It was lots of fun catching the literary references that she threw in all over the places and the art references had me expanding my knowledge with Wikipedia on multiple occasions. Which I don't actually mind in a book, so long as its done in a way that fits the setting, which it does here.
BUT that being said The Bookstore is probably one of the most irritating books I've read all year. Because [spoilers may abound] the characters are AWFUL. Esme's 'boyfriend' Mitchell is a despicable man-child, who thinks of nobody but himself and whose life seems to consist of creating drama so he can proceed to revel in it. Seriously, he pushes at six month pregnant woman out of a bed because he can't deal with affection if it's not on his own terms. He's probably the first literary character this year that I've full-out just wanted to punch in the head. Esme is little better. To be fair, she would probably be quite likable if it wasn't for one major flaw - her obsession with Mitchell. He comes close to straight out psychological abuse on multiple occasions and yet she keeps going back to him. Loving him. Refusing to look at life without him. She perhaps would have been redeemed if the book had ended with her getting over him. But it doesn't. There is a hint that she might. . . maybe. For an obviously extremely intelligent woman she's extremely stupid. The supporting characters were marginally more likable. Luke, the counter for Mitchell that's Esme's colleague at the bookstore would have been great if he ever got over himself enough to admit he had feelings for her. George and Stella (Esme's boss at the bookstore and girl-from-across-the-hall respectively) were better, Stella seeming to be the only one who saw Mitchell for what he was.
The only thing that really had me rooting for The Bookstore a little bit was the setting. Meyer's descriptions of New York and The Owl bookstore are gorgeous and make those two the real stars of the show. It'll make you want to take a holiday on the Upper West Side. Which must mean something, considering I'm really not a big city kinda girl.
Overall: 2/5 stars. It's Mitchell's fault.
The Bookstore is available now