Great works of literature and other priceless antiques populate Reay’s (Lizzy & Jane, 2014, etc.) thoughtful tribute to the Brontë sisters.
Lucy Alling has found her niche selling rare books inside the gallery of Chicago’s premier interior designer. She charms her client James Carmichael with a limited-edition Jane Eyre—and her latent talent for design—but when James catches Lucy in a lie, he exposes a secret that could end her career. Just when all hope is seemingly lost, Lucy peeks up at readers from the middle pages and assures us that her story is far from over: “All books have it…that time when you don’t know where you’ll be, but you can’t stay as you are.” Opportunity knocks when James’ grandmother Helen proposes an unusual trip to England’s literary landmarks with Lucy as her shopping consultant. James’ disapproval adds tension, and the shopping transforms Lucy’s soul-searching into something more tangible. Reay handles each souvenir as carefully with her prose as her interior designers do with their hands—creating the effect of walking through an expensive gallery without any pressure to buy—and with a discerning eye, she brings out the varying shades of emotion in her characters. Lucy, for example, compares Helen’s eyes to paint colors—they start out as “Benjamin Moore #810 Blue Dragon” and change with her mood. Confronting her past at the Brontë sisters’ home in Haworth, Lucy soon discovers how much she and Helen have in common. Although age brings wisdom, Helen suggests that even wisdom can come with a price.
The moral ambiguity makes the story more modern than its premise would suggest—and proves how well its source material holds up over time.