Release Day Review: The Bookseller

Posted 3 March, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Release Day Review: The BooksellerThe Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
Published by Harper Collins on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction
Pages: 352

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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 been1962: 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?

This is one of those books that I had a hard time defining.
I know it’s not popular to like labels or categories, but I feel better when I can categorize a book.

I liked this book. But…. butbutbut…  I wanted it to be more. To be deeper and more important. Of course as a book blogger I love books about booksellers and people who love books, but this novel seemed to deteriorate into something else, into (dare I say it…) chick lit. Which is fine. But I wanted more. 

Regardless, this book is still a fun read — I can’t really complain about it as a genre novel. I loved the pull and push between Katharyn and Kitty, I loved the idea of multi-verses (which while not really explored, is what it felt like to this nerd). 

This is a hard book for me. I liked how there was tension between Kitty’s dream world and Katharyn’s real world. It turns pretty predictable rather quickly – but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the read. This is a good genre novel that is fun and compelling. You definitely could do worse on a plane. 

Recommendation: If you find it in an airport bookstore with nothing else to read but trashy magazines… buy it. If you like chick-lit as a rule… buy it. If you’re randomly bored and you find it at the library… check it out.

A happier review comes from Jennine at My Life in Books.

Let’s talk about genres, Reader. What makes a book ‘chick lit’ to you? What makes a book ‘genre’ to you?

April @ The Steadfast Reader


  • This one sounds interesting! I like the inversion of the married life being the dream world… I feel like (at least in a lot of my reading) the premise is people being unhappily married/running away from their long-term relationships. But maybe this is actually a predictable plot and I just don’t read enough chick lit. 😛

    I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    • That’s a good point about the inversion of the married life being the dream world – I hadn’t thought of that! 🙂

  • Hmm, I have this one on my shelf, and now I’m getting a bit nervous. I think I’ll bump it down the list a little ways.

  • The premise definitely sets you up for a very deep book.

  • Like Trisha said, it sounds like it’s going to be a deep book, so I’d also be disappointed to find that it wasn’t. I have nothing against a nice light read, but I need to know that’s what I’m getting into so I can pick it up when I’m in the mood.

  • “Dare I say it…chick lit” I almost spewed my tea across the computer. I’m so with you on that. Chick lit is fine for what it is, but if you’re expecting more, it’s such a disappointment.

  • Jennine G.

    Thanks for the link up! I guess I didn’t see it as going too deep when I started it and so I wasn’t disappointed. But I can see how if it seemed it would be deep it would be disappointing. Expectation has a lot to do with it I think!

  • I received this one last week, I can’t wait to read it!

  • Isi

    I understand when you say that you wanted “more”. I liked the book very-very much, since I’m a chik-lit lover and also because I got hooked on the story quickly; I wanted to know more about that perfect and then not-that-perfect dream. And I’m a fan of “what ifs” in a book 😀

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