Book Review Time: A Novel Bookstore

Full disclosure, I’m a huge fan of Europa Editions and the works they publish. The Elegance of The Hedgehog, Farewell My Orange, A Girl Returned, and don’t even get me started with just about every title with Elena Ferrante’s name next to it. Europa puts out great material, plain and simple. They introduce to American audiences an international perspective; stories that ostensibly seem so different from our own, taking place across oceans, thousands of miles away. Yet as you immerse yourself deeper and deeper into the characters and the emotions driving their actions, you realize it’s all quite familiar. And you’re hooked. A Novel Bookstore is no different.

rainy day, warm beverage ~G

When Ivan and Francesca meet in a small village bookstore, they immediately hit it off. A shared love of books, or I should say, good books is their connection. They very quickly decide to enter into a business partnership together, opening up The Good Novel bookstore in Paris. Their mission is to offer the public literature of a higher standard. Instead of stocking numerous titles, with nothing to distinguish the good from the bad and the bad from the very bad, The Good Novel offers a smaller, more refined selection. Masterful works, chosen by a secret committee of colorful writers/bibliophiles, line the shelves of this special bookstore. The Good Novel’s unique book-selling concept garners the attention of literary devotees as well as the media. Ivan and Francesca’s enterprise is met with quick success. But just as quickly, come the criticisms. The Good Novel is accused of elitism and snobbery by entities unseen, who hide behind pseudonyms and social media usernames. Ivan, Francesca, and friends of The Good Novel do their best to combat the critics, but the scrutiny intensifies, leading to threats, harassment, and even more dangerous and aggressive acts against the owners and the selection committee members. The reader follows Ivan and Francesca through these tumultuous first years in the book-selling business. 

A Novel Bookstore is a beautifully written, book-nerd’s dream. And, yes, I am a book-nerd. I found myself jotting down titles mentioned in the book, for future consideration, including the Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy, which I ordered on the spot. What is also special about this novel is how it intimately portrays the complexity of love; its strength and its fragility. Laurence Cosse illustrates this complexity with skillful grace. My one critique would be that it does run a bit too long. I think trimming it by a quarter would’ve given this lovely story even greater impact. I highly recommend A Novel Bookstore. If you have read it, let me know your thoughts?


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