Esme Garland, an English PhD candidate in New York, has a passion for art history, books and a man who is unhealthy for her. Unfortunately her plans of a challenging academic life are sidetracked when, just as she is about to tell her boyfriend about their unexpected pregnancy, he dumps her, claiming boredom with their sex life. She sets about trying to balance her PhD, a job at a local secondhand bookstore and her imminent baby.
The Bookstore, as stated by a cover quote, is a love song to books and to Manhattan. It is a beautifully written exploration of a young life changed by startling circumstances.
The relationship with her boyfriend bothered me so much, that when she takes him back for a time, I put the book down for a while. He and his family are repulsive.
The secondhand bookstore where she works, The Owl, is expertly rendered, I feel as if I have been there, perusing the shelves of secondhand treasures myself. The team who work at the store are a lovely, eclectic bunch who become Esme’s second family and teach her many lessons about life and books.
The ending is left open, I have my hopes for what happens next for Esme, but it is delightfully full of hope.
Overall, what kept me reading was Meyler’s writing. This was her debut novel and I am excited to read what she produces next. I adored the character Esme and Meyler’s narrative voice. The plot wasn’t captivating in a way that compels you to continue reading, but it was a great story.