The Bookseller

by Cynthia Swanson | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 006233302X Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingedithdollwing of Winthrop, Massachusetts USA on 1/17/2020
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingedithdollwing from Winthrop, Massachusetts USA on Friday, January 17, 2020
Novel/found on community bookshelf.

Journal Entry 2 by wingedithdollwing at Winthrop, Massachusetts USA on Monday, January 20, 2020
This was an interesting read--hard to review without giving away spoilers. I will say it moved fast but I also had some issues with some technical aspects--that again it's hard to discuss without giving away plot points and narratives. Spoilers follow.

Kitty is an old maid and part owner of a bookstore. This is the early 1960's, so it's still somewhat unusual to be a woman business owner/even inherited, but her co-owner and best friend Frieda comes from wealthy parents who agreed to back them. Times though are tough--they lost a train line that brings foot traffic and in this post WW suburbia blitz everyone is moving out of Denver downtown and driving to all the shopping plazas and centers. While they got money to start up, they cannot turn to Frieda's parents to help them with their mortgage, rent or debts.

Kitty though concerned about the book shop is having vivid dreams about being married to a man named Lars. She faintly recalls placing a personal ad--and speaking to him on the phone. They have a nice conversation, arrange a coffee date but he is a no show. Disappointed Kitty stops looking to meet anyone/or have a great love. She is content with her store, her friends, her books, her cat.

But these dreams are so real she is prompted to go through her files and re-read her ad. She searches the phone book for Lars but no luck and even goes to the local library to look up the ad in the newspaper for clues to what happened to him -- how retracing publication of her advert to connect with finding him was a little bit of a stretch here for me...but in her newspaper research she finds his obit and realizes he had a heart attack and died--that is why he was a no show on their coffee date.

Kitty toggles back and forth from her "real life" with the bookstore to her "dream life" with Lars complete with two adorable then three children. The twins become triplets--continuity here not sure if they were all identical or combo of identical with one fraternal--(And I was not nit-picking but I actually have cousins born who were original triplets identical/now twins where the oldest died post WWII--the youngest on a respirator, later had two strokes in her 60's due to a hole in her heart she never knew was there, etc.) so it's uncertain in the book if it was one egg that split into 3 embryos or a 2nd egg fertilized and this would possibly be a factor perhaps in child development -- regarding genetics and disorders, etc.

The 2nd boy Michael is Autistic which we learn via Kitty in the bookstore/world when a customer comes in with a little girl and has a trigger/episode in the store. Here again, is where I have some technical issues. I'm a child of parents born during WWII my mom was a baby, my dad in grade school. I've heard lots of stories about the Depression and post WWII life in the U.S., especially about the 1950's and the early 1960's when my folks married -- including sad stories about families with children with disabilities.

Autism is a term I learned sometime in the late 90's/2000's perhaps it was coined before but I don't believe it was well known and/or the connected diagnosis of it being tied to the Mother. I will say though, that most mothers, especially older mothers in the US anyway, via research tended to be blamed for most birth defects or mental/physical disorders up to the 2000's -- about half way through the decade the research turned around and seemed more fair about other factors, etc.

My point is that during this time period/setting of this book, children with disorders/this type of behavior like this would have been kept at home, not taken out in public to family party, to a shop, or the library, etc. It just wasn't done or socially acceptable -- the world was a much different place. If a child was violent -- most likely they were institutionalized, private if a family could afford it, if not in a state run mental hospital. Where I live in Mass. we had an infamous public hospital here, were people were kept for a range of medical reasons for decades and sadly/tragically experimented as subjects. This hospital was not closed until the 2000's.

So while it's possible Kitty had an Autistic child that she cared for by herself--the book doesn't synch with the time period/culture of the early 1960's.

The end is a flip flop surprise if you will--and two/2 other plot lines also wrap --although as the character loses sight of which world she is in/favoring one for the other--I think most readers get a clear idea of where it is going.

It was interesting read but I think it would have benefitted perhaps being set in the early 1990's--pre-internet U.S., where people still occasionally did run personal ads/newspapers, have small indie bookstores struggling against the mega stores at the malls, etc. And Autism and related disorders were getting more awareness.

Journal Entry 3 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Sunday, February 16, 2020
I claimed this hardcover at today's BookCrossing Meetup in Porter Square, attracted by the idea of being able to dream the life one might have had if one had made different choices.

Later: I appreciated the which-plotline-is-real aspect of the story (while wondering if it was going to turn out that there was yet another story going on, with both of the main plots being dreams). I've had some of those too-realistic dreams myself, though certainly not to this degree, but with the feeling of having lived a long time somewhere else only to wake and have it drift away. There were growing hints in these stories as to what might be behind it all, and the eventual twist did make sense to me, though for me it also rather undercut the concept I'd expected: not so much "small things can change your life" as "big things can break you"...

Journal Entry 4 by wingGoryDetailswing at Doubletree by Hilton in Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Sunday, February 23, 2020

Released 7 mos ago (2/23/2020 UTC) at Doubletree by Hilton in Nashua, New Hampshire USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

I left this book, bagged against the elements, in the gazebo behind the hotel; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

*** Released for the 2020 Great Backyard Bird Count challenge, for the embedded "swan" in the author's name; GBBC info here. ***

*** Released for the 2020 Keep Them Moving challenge. ***

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