Book Number 10
The Bookshop of Yesterdays
This debut novel started with a great premise. Miranda Brooks returns to California for the funeral of her uncle whom she hasn’t seen since she was twelve. She learns that she has inherited his bookstore, Prospero Books, and is led on one final scavenger hunt to uncover family secrets.
I enjoyed the literary references, the atmosphere of the financially strapped bookstore, and many of the characters. Meyerson’s writing is nice—good vocabulary, smooth sentences, fairly realistic dialogue, strong emotion. Her technique is unusual with many flashbacks interpreted by the main character in different ways. It was a bit tricky with part direct dialogue, part italicized, part narrative, all from various points of view.
The big secret wasn’t hard to figure out (even for me. I rarely put together all the clues before the protagonist does.) And once I knew what Uncle Billy was leading Miranda to discover, I felt parts of the plot were belabored. I also found some of it unrealistic and hard to buy.
Miranda’s relationship with her boyfriend sounded real and the outcome was not surprising or disappointing. Her relationship with her mother was less so. Without disclosing the dilemma, I felt that Miranda’s mother acted unreasonably and Miranda’s reaction, also unreasonable, was too intense. Perhaps if the author had not gone on too long, I would have found their flaws easier to accept.
It takes some time to get to the ending. Meyerson could have moved things along faster once Miranda learns the big secret. The final chapter is like a prologue where all’s well that end’s well (can’t resist a Shakespearean reference since the book contained many!)