I received this book from Tandem Literary for review consideration.
The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
Published by HarperCollins on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Debut, Fiction, Women
Source: Tandem Literary
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A provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel reminiscent of Sliding Doors, The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams
Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . .
Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped.
Then the dreams begin.
Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It's everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps.
Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn?
As the lines between her worlds begin to blur, Kitty must figure out what is real and what is imagined. And how do we know where that boundary lies in our own lives?
When browsing Spring book releases a few months ago, I glanced over The Bookseller. It initially caught my eye due to obvious reasons (which book lover doesn’t want to read a book with book in the title? Too many books in that sentence?), as soon as I read Sliding Doors in the synopsis I moved on. That was a movie I wasn’t a fan off, and I wasn’t inclined to read a book that went back and forth possibly leading to much confusion (I’m easily confused).
However, when I received a copy in the mail (how much fun is book mail?) courtesy of Meg at Tandem Literary, I decided to give the book a chance.
There are mixed reviews on Goodreads, which just goes to show that not every reader enjoys the same books, and this always makes me wonder why I like a particular book so much more than others. But that is a conversation for another day.
For me, The Bookseller was a compelling and wonderfully written debut novel. I wrote to Meg soon after turning the last page to tell her how thankful I was that she sent me a copy and gushing how I was as anxious as Kitty/Kathleen to travel between the different worlds.
I read The Bookseller over two days, but I could have read it in a single sitting if the days had allowed me the time. This was the first book since Before I Go where I have felt the urge to sneak in a couple of chapters at every possible opportunity. Usually I prefer to carve out at least an hour to sit and read, but I just had to continue with Kitty/Kathleen on her journey and find out why she was dreaming about an alternative life.
I have to say that I was surprised by how Swanson ended the book, I would never have guessed. But the way Swanson drew out the plot, it was as though she purposefully lead the reader to make certain conclusions about Kitty/Kathleen.
I’ll certainly be on the look out for Cynthia Swanson’s next novel, The Bookseller is a favorite of 2015 so far.