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A witty, sharply observed debut novel about a young woman who finds unexpected salvation while working in a quirky used bookstore in Manhattan.
Brilliant, idealistic Esme Garland moves to Manhattan armed with a prestigious scholarship at Columbia University. When Mitchell van Leuven— a New Yorker with the bluest of blue New York blood—captures her heart with his stunning good looks and a penchant for all things erotic, life seems truly glorious . . . until a thin blue line signals a wrinkle in Esme’s tidy plan. Before she has a chance to tell Mitchell about her pregnancy, he suddenly declares their sex life is as exciting as a cup of tea, and ends it all.
Determined to master everything from Degas to diapers, Esme starts work at a small West Side bookstore, finding solace in George, the laconic owner addicted to spirulina, and Luke, the taciturn, guitar-playing night manager. The oddball customers are a welcome relief from Columbia’s high-pressure halls, but the store is struggling to survive in this city where nothing seems to last.
When Mitchell recants his criticism, his passion and promises are hard to resist. But if Esme gives him a second chance, will she, like her beloved bookstore, lose more than she can handle? A sharply observed and evocative tale of learning to face reality without giving up on your dreams, The Bookstore is sheer enchantment from start to finish.
*Starred Review* Between studying art history at Columbia University on a prestigious scholarship and a two-week fling with a magnetic, wealthy man, 23-year-old Esme Garland from England is happily settling into life in Manhattan when she discovers she’s pregnant. Mitchell van Leuven, the father of her child, is enchanted by Esme but not in love, and he dumps her as she is on the brink of telling him about the child. The scholarship fund won’t support two, so Esme takes a job in a secondhand bookstore on Broadway, a gathering place for the eccentric, who watch over her through her pregnancy. Then Mitchell reappears, and once again she is seduced by his worldly charms. This character-driven novel is about a woman trying to fit in and discovering her own path. It’s about the man who sweeps Esme into his orbit against her better judgment and who is battling his own demons. It’s about the quirky booksellers who adopt Esme as part of the family, including Luke, a guitar-playing loner whose blunt honesty serves as her annoyance and salvation. Above all, it’s about the love of books. A deeply satisfying novel you will keep close to your heart, written in a style by turns witty and poetic. --Diane Holcomb
"Sometimes a book is perfect company, and The Bookstore is that and more, a deeply charming, beautifully written novel, both funny and moving; a love song to a city and to books with some side smooches for painting." (Leslie Daniels, author of Cleaning Nabokov's House)
About the Author
Deborah Meyler was born in Manchester, read English at Oxford University, and completed a Master of Philosophy thesis on American fiction at St. Andrews University. She eventually moved to New York, where she worked in a bookshop for six years, sold paintings, and had three children. She now lives in Cambridge and is working on her next novel.
Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful.
By M. Maxwell
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a temporary ARC of the book. Reviews are up and down the stars range for this book, and it's easy to understand why. But I am firmly on the positive side, and would love to see more from the author. (Even though I extremely dislike reading books that are written in first-person-present-tense.) The author's beautiful descriptive prose wins me over.
Esme is a young graduate student who has won a scholarship from Columbia and moves to New York. She immediately falls for Mitchell, a controlling, older, sexually predatory, rich, handsome man--and it's giving nothing away to say she has a hard time letting go of him, and this is the major flaw of the book. One day she discovers she's pregnant. He dumps her. Will she get an abortion? He decides he wants her back, he dumps her, he decides he wants her back, he dumps her, etc. Even though she knows he's no good for her, she loves him. And I keep reading the book, because even though I get very impatient with her, she does have other stuff going on.
For this is a love story in more ways than one. It's a love letter to Art with a capital A, and the beauty of light changing and dancing with shadow through the day. It's a love letter to New York, the symbol of "making it," the giant city, the Promised Land to every artist, writer, actor, designer in their teen years. (Some of that Mitchell story could have gone to more about friendship, which does play a big part in the story, but gets short shrift in Esme's telling. But then, more verisimilitude--youth!). It's also a love letter to bookstores and books, as the keepers of knowledge and beauty that help us grow out of our mistakes, and the friendships we make there and the bits of other people's lives we see through our customers--to all the relationships that help us throw off being the thrall to our young adult hormones and grow up.
The plot of the story continues--Esme decides to keep the baby early on, she gets illegal employment at the used bookstore where she's started to hang out, she makes her way through pregnancy and school. And the bookstore comforts her, nurtures her, teaches her--the womb that's birthing her to be an unexpected Esme, a young mother, a person making hard choices, an adult. The bookstore is where the real love story happens.
Even though I received the temporary copy, I've bought a copy to keep on my shelves! I really did like it.
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
Woman Working in Bookstore Meets Cad
By Linda Stepp
I read this book and on the whole enjoyed it. A young English woman is going to Columbia University when she discovers she is pregnant. Realizing she would need far more money than she had then she was able to secure a job working in a quaint but exceptionally well stocked book store. Throughout the pregnancy she has all the ups and downs in her relationship with the father of the child who reveals himself to be a psycho that enjoys inflicting emotional pain on women. But the job at the bookstore among some wonderful men working there helps her to keep her feet on the ground and eventually the baby is born and she remains mentally strong. Along the way there is a lot of interesting information about the books and the customers who come and go in the store and in their lives. It is well written, free of obvious typos and grammatical errors and the author has managed to make you care about her characters. But in some places it was a downer as life often is but there is only one high point . . . . . . . . . . no. . . . no, that's all I'm telling you.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful.
Sorry I read this
I am always on the lookout for new, fresh authors and novels. I chose this because of the NYC location where the story is set. The descriptions of NYC are heartwarming. The story leaves much to be desired. The main character, Esme, cannot evolve into the story's heroine because she is just too weak. She is written as academically brilliant, but lacks common sense and personality. I lose all respect for her with her choices to be with Mitchell, over and over again although he treats her terribly. Even at the end, she is still in love with him although he has given her nothing. Very descriptive writing. Too many characters. Unanswered questions and story lines. The author should consider writing about a strong female. Overall, I just didn't like it.