THE BOOKSELLER by Cynthia Swanson


Email this review


The cat-owning spinster co-owner of a struggling independent bookstore begins to experience more-than-vivid dreams of an alternate life in this debut novel.

Book lover Kitty Miller appears to have it all. She's an independent woman in early 1960s Denver with a passion for books and a modest inheritance that helped her open a small bookstore with her best friend, Frieda. Though the store just squeaks by, and though she's in her 30s and still single, she finds herself granted “an element of freedom and quirkiness that other women our age don’t have.” But Kitty's simple life is interrupted as she finds herself dreaming at night of a husband named Lars, a robust sex life and children she adores. All this is very strange, and Kitty starts to doubt the choices she’s made in her daytime life, preferring the seemingly perfect housewife-life of her dreams. She can’t quite believe her dream life, though, and finds herself puzzled over how she knows how to take care of children or run a household. She also discovers her dream life is not as perfect as she first thought: Her parents, who are very much alive in her real life, have died in a plane crash, and one of her children is autistic (which is dealt with awkwardly, as are the historical aspects of the novel); she's also lost the bookstore and Frieda's friendship. There are mysteries galore, and like Nancy Drew, Kitty sets out to solve the case and find the links between her two worlds, as memories from each surprise and interrupt her. 

Unfortunately, Kitty is too perfect and naïve in both her worlds to be very interesting. And for a novel about a bibliophile, there’s little about books beyond an adolescent interest.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-06-233300-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2015


FictionTHE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger
by Audrey Niffenegger
FictionTHE HELP by Kathryn  Stockett
by Kathryn Stockett
NonfictionTHE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB by Lily Koppel
by Lily Koppel