Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Bookshop of Yesterdays - Amy Meyerson

Authors figured out people like me a long time ago – but really, that wasn’t so hard to do.  Just include the word “bookstore” or “bookshop” in your book’s title and feature the image of an old bookstore, book, or stack of books on its dust jacket, and we will practically sprain our wrists snatching your novel off the bookstore or library shelf as soon as we see it.  And best of all, we will read it and we will talk about it – a lot.  

Which brings us to The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson. This one was first published in mid-2018 but I didn’t stumble upon it until a few days ago when it was released in a paperback edition.  Believe me, if I had seen it in 2018, it would have been read in 2018.  It was even named one of the Best Books of Summer 2018 by both the Philadelphia Enquirer and the Library Journal, so I’m not sure how I missed it.

On the surface, this one seems to have a lot going for it.  It’s about a young Philadelphia teacher who returns to Los Angeles to attend the funeral of an uncle she has not seen since she was a little girl.  Sixteen years earlier her uncle had a mysterious falling out with Miranda’s parents, one so severe that she never saw him, or heard her parents speak of him again (they even refused to attend the man’s funeral).  Now, Miranda is shocked to learn that upon his death her Uncle Billy left to her the old neighborhood bookstore she has such fond memories of visiting as a child. But why would he do something like that – and more importantly, what is she going to do with the floundering bookstore? 

Beginning with the mysterious clue she received in Philadelphia before she learned of her uncle’s death, Miranda is soon involved in a complicated scavenger hunt inside his bookstore.  When she was a little girl, Billy always had a bookshop scavenger hunt prepared for Miranda’s amusement whenever she visited Prospero Books, but she is not at all prepared for where this final hunt might lead her.  Ready or not, though, Miranda is determined to learn what it is that Billy seems so badly to want to tell her - even after she figures out that each clue in the chain is leading her closer and closer to a truth that could destroy her family and everything she believes about herself.

Amy Meyerson
The Bookshop of Yesterdays, with all of its references to books both classic and modern, is definitely a booklover’s mystery, one that is enjoyable as such.  But something about the plot nags at me a bit and makes me wonder if I missed a plot element somewhere along the line that would explain away my doubt.  Why did Billy use a scavenger hunt, one that had a relatively high chance of failure or not even being undertaken by Miranda at all, to pass along something of such great importance to her?  Why did he not simply write her a detailed letter, including all the necessary references to the people who would fill in the details for her, and attach that to his will?  (I know that book, of course,would not have been nearly as much fun as The Bookshop of Yesterdays– so is this just an instance of me not being able quite to reach the level of suspended disbelief that the author is asking me to reach?)

Bottom Line:  If you are one of those people I described up above – and you know if you are – grab this one and read it quick.  And then come back and tell me what I missed that explains Billy’s willingness to gamble that Miranda would be able, or even want, to solve one last Prospero Books scavenger hunt.  

Book Number 3,404

10 comments:

  1. :) I often have the sort of questions you ask about this book. Sometimes I can ignore them and not even mention them in a review; sometimes they simply must be mentioned or they will never quit nagging. But, yes, even with your caveat, I would read this one.

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    1. I'm not real sure why this particular question is still bugging me so much, but it hit me around half way through the book when I noticed how easily a clue could have been moved or misplaced by a customer or even a store employee. It just doesn't seem worth the risk, considering the importance of the ultimate message. Glad, though, to hear I didn't scare you off (I've heard the same from someone over at GoodReads, too) because that was the last thing I wanted to do.

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  2. I'm like that too. If I see "bookshop" in the title, I have a compulsive need to read it. :)

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  3. Me, too. I'm always drawn to books with the words bookstore or bookshop in the title. :D

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  4. Yeah I'm kind of a sucker for books or bookstores on a cover, and books ABOUT books haha! Always gets at least a look from me. And the trope of having a bookstore left to oneself is fun as well. I can see reading this one.

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    1. This one has a lot going for it along those lines, Greg. There's no way that this one wasn't coming home from me. And it was fun despite that one nagging doubt I still have about the plot line, so I'm really glad I grabbed it.

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  5. Yep, I'm the same -- a bookstore setting will snag my attention every time. It doesn't mean I'll automatically love the book, though. It has to have interesting characters, an intriguing plot, etc. to win my love. Sounds like this one is a fun read, just missing a little something.

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    1. It was definitely a fun read overall, but for me it started out so much stronger than it ended up, that I found myself a little disappointed in it.

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