There are few things I love as much as books celebrating the amazingness of book shops. That’s what’s made 84, Charing Cross Road into one of my favourite books ever, and it’s what made The Little Shop of Happily Ever After into one of my favourite reads of 2018. So when I read the premises for The Printed Letter Bookshop? Well I knew I had to read it. Suffice it to say: I was not disappointed.
I was offered an ARC by Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are strictly my own.
One of Madeline Cullen’s happiest childhood memories is of working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened her heart toward her once-treasured aunt–and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.
While Madeline intends to sell the shop as quickly as possible, the Printed Letter’s two employees have other ideas. Reeling from a recent divorce, Janet finds sanctuary within the books and within the decadent window displays she creates. Claire, though quieter than the acerbic Janet, feels equally drawn to the daily rhythms of the shop and its loyal clientele, finding a renewed purpose within its walls.
When Madeline’s professional life takes an unexpected turn, she questions her plans and her heart. She begins to envision a new path for herself and her aunt’s beloved shop–provided the women’s best combined efforts are not too little, too late.
More so than about romance, this book is about growth and the way books can guide you through this. Madeline, Janet and Claire are all vastly different. From their careers to their interests to their personal lives, however, they all find themselves at cross roads. Before she died, Maddie left Madeline, Janet and Claire a list of books to read. As the story starts, they each see their lives fall apart in some way or form. But the books Maddie listed for them, offer support, guidance and inspiration to each of the three women.
Throughout the story of The Printed Letter Bookshop, what struck me again and again is to what extent each of the main characters was allowed their own path and growth. And, something which not many authors manage to get right: the characters weren’t forced to like each other. There were no over-emotional moments, no forced recognition of “shared interests”…
Katherine Reay was a revelation in not only the respect she offers her characters, but also in the love for books that just about jumps from the pages. Whatever book is recommended, referenced or talked about: I immediately wanted to go add it to my TBR. (Sure, this might also be a personal deficiency, as I am that way about most any book title I come across, but still).
The rating: 4/5
This was my first read of 2019, and I honestly can’t imagine a better book to start of the year. The writing was beautiful, the characters well-developed, the love for books clear as day… If you love books, small villages, or immense personal growth for women through various kinds of hardships? Then this is 100% the book for you! (Goodreads)