SynopsisLove doesn't always go by the book Ardent and Idealistic, Esme Garland has arrived in Manhattan with a scholarship to study art history at Columbia University. When she falls in love with New York blue-blood Mitchell van Leuven, with his penchant for all things erotic, life seems to be clear sailing, until a thin blue line signals stormy times ahead. Before she has a chance to tell Mitchell about her pregnancy, he abruptly declares their sex life is as exciting as a cup of tea, and ends it all. Stubbornly determined to master everything from Degas to diapers, Esme starts work at a small West Side bookstore to make ends meet. The Owl is a shabby all-day, all-night haven for a colorful crew of characters, such as handsome and taciturn guitar player Luke and George, the owner, who lives on spirulina shakes and idealism. The Owl becomes a nexus of good in a difficult world for Esme-but will it be enough to sustain her when Mitchell, glittering with charm and danger, comes back on the scene? The Bookstore is a celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them. The Bookstore is also a story about emotional discovery, the complex choices we all face, and the accidental inspirations that make a life worth the reading.
I loved the premise of Esme, a young British woman making her way in New York, discovering herself, the city and new people. Littered with literary and art references with a strong romantic vein what could be more perfect for a rainy weekend?
So why by the end of it did I feel it was more like a deflated souffle?
It seems to have delusions of grandeur. The writer obviously bright and cultured peppers the story with her knowledge of New York and its culture which I should have found fascinating but instead felt patronised. The characters are all interesting and mostly likable but the story never, for me took off. It had a bit of eroticism thrown in, although it seemed like it was thrown in for the sake of it. Esme's love interest, Mitchell at the beginning was suitably caddish and shitty but Luke, her 'friend', needed to be developed a lot more. There needed to be more chemistry and tension between Esme and Luke to offset the ghastly way Mitchell keeps treating her. Also Esme's constant insistence on going back to Mitchell even when he and his family treated her so badly really started to grate.. I kept wanting more but it never happened. I never really engaged which is a shame as this is just my sort of book.
It's good but could have been really great. The writer needs to work on the relationships in her next book and be a little less self indulgent.