OM GAWD !!! Can they just tell her already ! I hate these secrets in a family. WTH is up with the creepy Mom attitude ? I want to reach into this book and shake a few of these people. Really pissing me off, I'd quit reading for that alone if I didn't want to know so badly. I like the book but really hate 1/2 the characters.
Not the book I expected. I bought it because it was advertised to be a book about a bookman - and it is, but it's a biography of Starrett's life, not a memoir of his book buying and selling. Almost nothing at all about his bookman role, actually. What he talks about most are his days as a journalist and author, name dropping his way from first to last. That's not a criticism, but I knew almost none of the names, which makes the whole exercise tedious rather than interesting.
Mostly, this book was both out of my league and not what I was looking for, but that's my fault, not the author's.
The title's a pretty strong implication of romance, but it's not, strictly speaking, a romance novel. Left to standard categorical labels, I'd call this more a blend of contemporary and chick-lit with a strong thread of love throughout.
The story follows the lives of half a dozen people, 4 of whom have their lives altered by their connection to the village bookshop, Nightingale Books. Emilia is the only daughter of the recently passed owner, determined to carry on and keep the doors open in spite of the uphill battle. Sarah is the lady of the manor house and is the poster child for silent suffering; her daughter Alice is lightness personified but dreadfully naive. Jackson is a man with a good heart and the victim of his own lack of courage and conviction, who gets himself stuck doing something distasteful. Thomasina is a painfully shy introvert who crushes on the cheese monger she met in the cookbook section.
They all have different stories, and their stories involve the stories of others. Some are painfully predictable (mostly the falling-in-love ones) but some are more complicated, with the author choosing to take the story in an unexpected, or at least atypical, direction. For me, Emilie's story was the most compelling and the reason I kept reading - I wanted to know about the bookshop! It sounded magical, perfect and I wanted to know what happened to it. But everyone else's story was good too. ;-)
It was an easy, enjoyable read. Almost a beach read, but not. There are a lot of painful moments scattered throughout, especially at the start when there are a few chapters that take place in the past, building up the world that's crashing down in the present; sniffly moments. Maybe good for the beach if you remember to pack tissues in your beach bag. Just in case.