I promise you, later tonight I will have a pregnancy update/non-book review post for you. Swearsies. But for now, book review!
The Bookseller - Cynthia Swanson
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?
Yes, it's reminiscent of Sliding Doors, but it also reminded me of The Other Life by Ellen Meister. I will say that I am so split on this book. I've had a hard time figuring out what I'm going to write as far as a review because there are aspects I absolutely love and others where I'm just left feeling like... it's been done. I have a hard time enjoying something that's been done. Yes, there are elements that are different than things it can be compared to, but there weren't enough for me to feel like it's a fresh idea. Of course, if you haven't read anything else like this, then this entire paragraph is meaningless to you and you'll find the book absolutely fascinating. The premise of being able to live two lives, simultaneously, is interesting. It's like seeing what your life could have been. Though it then begs, would you love your "normal" life less because you know what you could have had?
Also I had to keep reminding myself that this is set in the 1960's, so there is some language that was a little alarming in regards to a child with autism who was aggressive. Now, back then I get autism wasn't totally a well known thing but man, it made me pause while reading it for sure. For me, that was the most exciting thing in the entire book. The other thing with it being set in this particular time period is that you also are thinking about a woman's role in society. Back then, it was kind of unheard of to not actively look for marriage and start a family. Instead, Kitty and her best friend open a book store to be their own bosses and both kind of let dating go to the wayside for various reasons, and it leads them to look like spinsters, basically. And maybe it's that perception that leads Kitty into fantasy land and explore what her life would have been like if she had continued on with Lars? I'm not sure, to be honest. Overall, it was a bit boring compared to other books in my reading list as of late. I think between that and me comparing it to The Other Life, and being reminded on how frustrated I was with the main character of that book, I really struggled to love this book.
But I absolutely cannot stress enough- if you have not read a book with a similar premise, give this one a shot. I wished I had read this years ago before I read anything else like it because I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more.
The Bookseller is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can also learn more about the author, Cynthia Swanson, on her website as well as her Facebook page.