Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
So, we're in DAY TWO of the takeover and thus far, everything is going swell. What's that? Yes, you read that right...swell. What can I say? I'm getting in the right frame of mind for today's review that just so happens to take place back in the 1960s. Swell seemed a fitting description. Anywho...yesterday, we featured the author, today we're spotlighting her work in a review of my adventure through the pages. Ready to read all about it? Here goes! Today's book of choice is...
About the book....
A mesmerizingly powerful debut novel about the ways in which past choices can irrevocably define the present—and the bittersweet confrontation of what might have been.
1962: It may be the Swinging Sixties in New York, but in Denver it's different: being a single gal over thirty in this city is almost bohemian. Still, thirty-eight-year-old Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She was involved, once—with a doctor named Kevin—but when things didn't work out the way she had hoped, she decided to chart her own path. Now she dedicates herself to the bookstore she runs with her best friend, Frieda, returning home each evening to her cozy apartment. Without a husband expecting dinner, she can enjoy last-minute drinks after work with her friends; without children who need to get ready for school, she can stay up all night reading with her beloved cat, Aslan, by her side.
Then the dreams begin.
1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They live in a picture-perfect home in a suburban area of Denver, close to their circle of friends. It's the ideal place in which to raise their children. Katharyn's world is exactly what Kitty once believed she wanted . . . but it exists only when she sleeps.
At first, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. Even though there is no Frieda, no bookstore, no other familiar face, Kitty becomes increasingly reluctant to open her eyes and abandon Katharyn's alluring life.
But with each visit to her dreamworld, it grows more real. As the lines between the two worlds begin to blur, Kitty faces an uncertain future. What price must she pay to stay? What is the cost of letting go?
When I originally read about this book, I couldn't help but think...I've seen this concept before. A lead character is living one life during the day but at night, once they fall asleep, they become someone completely different. Now, we're not talking about daydreams, wishes, and hopes here; we're talking actually living ANOTHER life. Curious? Yes. Hard to wrap your mind around? Definitely...and yet here, it works. But what happens when one reality becomes aware of the other? Better still, how to determine which is the "dream" and which is reality? Oh, there are clues along the way but trust me, you'll be so caught up in everything transpiring that they'll only become clear in hindsight.
So, with one leading lady living as she is and could have been, to whom does your favor fall? The author gives us a choice and makes both appealing in turn. For me, it was Kitty...whether or not that was the proper choice, I can't reveal (sorry, you'll have to read it to find out for yourself). Though her life felt stilted in many ways lacking passion in some areas, it was much smoother sailing overall. Her friendships were deeper. Kindness radiated from her as well as her genuine interest in helping. I loved how she took on the job of unofficial tutor to the neighbor boy and the bookstore she ran with Frieda was AWESOME! Sure, it didn't pull in the big bucks and they were barely treading water, but they were living the dream..*chuckle*. (sorry, inside joke). Katharyn had the love connection Kitty only dreamed of along with the family ties she couldn't have imagined if she tried, but she also had loss, sorrow, and heartache to boot. Feelings of inadequacy ran rampant. That uncertainty of what to do despite the fact that we are adults seemed to rule her days. It was heart warming and heart breaking to read but made the journey that much more complete.
In conclusion, it's a cautionary tale of how dangerous it can be to live our lives purely in our minds. We must take each day and make it our own, for better or worse. Kitty did, as did Katharyn, and it got them where they needed to be. How about you? What will YOU make of your reality today?
About the author...
Cynthia Swanson is a writer and a designer of the midcentury modern style. She has published short fiction in 13th Moon, Kalliope, Sojourner, and other periodicals; her story in 13th Moon was a Pushcart Prize nominee. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and three children. The Bookseller is her first novel.
Special thanks for Meg at Tandem Literary for the ARC for review. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, the publicity team, or the publisher, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title was released earlier this month via Harper, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.
Until next time....happy reading!