Book Review: The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler

Posted August 19, 2013 by Melissa in Book Review | 23 Comments

Title: The Bookstore
Author: Deborah Meyler
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-1476714240
Publication Date: August 20th 2013
Available Formats: Paperback, E-Book
Add the book: Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository
Source: Publisher via NetGalley


A witty, sharply observed debut novel about a young woman who finds unexpected salvation while working in a quirky used bookstore in Manhattan.Impressionable and idealistic, Esme Garland is a young British woman who finds herself studying art history in New York. She loves her apartment and is passionate about the city and her boyfriend; her future couldn’t look brighter. Until she finds out that she’s pregnant.

Esme’s boyfriend, Mitchell van Leuven, is old-money rich, handsome, successful, and irretrievably damaged. When he dumps Esme—just before she tries to tell him about the baby—she resolves to manage alone. She will keep the child and her scholarship, while finding a part-time job to make ends meet. But that is easier said than done, especially on a student visa.

The Owl is a shabby, second-hand bookstore on the Upper West Side, an all-day, all-night haven for a colorful crew of characters: handsome and taciturn guitar player Luke; Chester, who hyperventilates at the mention of Lolita; George, the owner, who lives on protein shakes and idealism; and a motley company of the timeless, the tactless, and the homeless. The Owl becomes a nexus of good in a difficult world for Esme—but will it be enough to sustain her? Even when Mitchell, repentant and charming, comes back on the scene?

A rousing celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them, The Bookstore is also a story about emotional discovery, the complex choices we all face, and the accidental inspirations that make a life worth the reading.

My Thoughts

The Bookstore called out to me the minute I spied the cover and saw the title.  What could be a better read for a bookworm than a story that centers around a bookstore?  I hoped that inside of this novel would match it’s lovely exterior and I was rewarded with a charming and quirky read that didn’t fail to deliver in any way.

The pacing of this novel is slow and easy and perfectly matches it’s content.  Meyler’s writing style is quite also descriptive;  painting a vivid picture of everything that is happening.  (I know that this style of writing  is not for everyone but it generally always works for me…but then I don’t mind my contemporary fiction bordering on literary fiction.)   I adored the way that Meyler painted a picture of Manhattan in a way that made it feel so much smaller and more intimate than I’ve ever been able to imagine it.  The bookstore, “The Owl” is the perfect microcosm of New York City.

Esme, our main character, rarely made the same decisions that I would have in her place, yet I still found her to be a wonderful and likeable character.   Mitchell is as the synopsis says “irretrievably damaged” and we alternate between completely despising him and feeling pity for him, while we wait …and wait…for Esme to come to her senses.  The heart of this story though, is of course the bookstore: it’s staff and patrons and the community, or I daresay family, that they manage to cobble together for themselves.   I loved each and every one of these secondary characters and within time…so did Esme. I dare anyone to read this without letting your heart open to the wonder of human nature.

The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler proved to be quite a delightful foray into human nature and leaves one itching to make connections.

Was It Worth My Time?

4.5 Timepieces

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23 responses to “Book Review: The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler

  1. Thanks for your thoughts on the book. I wasn’t sure if this would be a good one and like you said, any self proclaimed bookworm should be attracted to this title. Even if it’s not my usual type of book, I might just have to check it out.

  2. I so want to work in a bookstore like The Owl Melissa! How much fun would it be to just be surrounded by books all day and get to share all that awesomeness with other book lovers? Sign me up for sure. I’m super intrigued by Mitchell, I have a soft spot for damaged characters so I can’t help but want to find out what becomes of him. Fabulous review!
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