It was author Cynthia Swanson’s title that first made me click on The Bookseller to see what it was all about, but it was the comparison to one of my favorite Gwyneth Paltrow movies (Sliding Doors) that made me pick this one up.
The bookseller that the title references, Kitty—though sometimes Kathryn—experiences two very different lifestyles, one in which she is single and running a bookshop with her best friend, and the other where she is married to the love of her life and is a stay-at-home mother to three. Through Kitty’s narrative, the reader comes to believe that her real life is the one in which she remains unmarried, though Kitty longingly wishes that the other were actually real. But what both Kitty and the reader begin to realize is that neither life is better than the other; there are positives and negatives to each reality in which she exists.
I feel it’s much harder to pull off this sort of reality-within-a-dream type of story in a book versus a movie. I had a different set of expectations going in to reading The Bookseller, based on my experience with the film Sliding Doors and a YA book entitled Just Like Fate that I read last year. It’s not entirely fair to the author to compare her work to that of the others I just mentioned, but unfortunately I preferred Sliding Doors and Just Like Fate.
The Bookseller is a bit of a slice-of-life story, in which the reader goes about Kitty’s days with her, going back and forth between knowing her as a single woman and as a married woman. It’s not a fast-paced novel, and nothing terribly exciting happens. There also didn’t appear to be any hints leading up to the climax of the story, though a certain stress that she goes through in her married reality made me begin to somewhat piece things together.
I didn’t find this to be either an interesting or uninteresting sort of read; this may be a title that I could see some impatient readers setting aside after just a few chapters because of how long it takes for the story to get going.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperCollins Publishers. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.