It seems like a book set in a quirky New York second hand bookstore can’t lose, right? Deborah Meyler manages to create a cocoon both in the life of the main character Esme Garland (what a great character name) and within the life of the bookstore.
Esme is British, newly arrived in New York to start her PhD in art history at Columbia University. She starts dating a fairly gross character named Mitchell, a guy from one of ‘those’ New York families, and finds herself pregnant. Mitchell walks away, and so Esme finds a job at the Bookstore to save for all of the upcoming expenses.
As you would expect, the bookstore is full of all sorts of interesting characters. George, the softhearted owner. Luke, the tough on the outside but heart of gold musician. A cast of homeless men who hang out at the store and the even more eccentric customers. They all seem to adopt Esme as some sort of a mascot, taking care of her and trying to steer her away from Mitchell.
Mitchell comes back into the picture full of apologies and puts Esme through the wringer with his family and expectations. From the moment he walks back into her life you want him gone. He’s possessive and jealous and generally treats her really badly. His family treats her worse.
In the end Mitchell does disappear and leave Esme alone (though her friends are a much better support), even refusing to look at the baby when they meet on the street.
While it’s clear the reader is supposed to be rooting for a Luke/Esme relationship, they (thankfully) don’t get together, but there’s a hint that they might.
I was left with a few questions. How easy is Columbia that a grad student would have so very much free time and seem to be able to attend lectures and write papers when she feels like it? How much money must she make at the bookstore that she’s always able to eat out in New York?
All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It brings you in and entertains you. I’d recommend this as a good read.