*Public Domain Photo by Alexandre Duret-Lutz
Seldom have I ever been so on the fence regarding a book I’ve selected for a spot of easy reading than I was, and still am, as I’ve been with The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler. After reading several pages at a random opening, I checked this novel out of my wonderful public library~ (side note: Everything under human control in the library is wonderful, though the departments ruled by computer intelligence are quite questionable of late. Artificial Intelligence is driving the staff a tad mad due to its distinct lack of common sense regarding book culling. For example, who would remove the second book in a young adult fantasy thriller series thus leaving a gap between volume one and three? What sense does that make? All it does is discourage the would be reader because the story is now incomplete. Okay enough of this developing issue.) Yeah, I promised a quick review for everyone on the cyber-space run. Let’s get to the good stuff first: This is an easy-going read writing wise–you will not have to work through any deviously poetic complex sentence structures. The supporting cast of characters connected to the bookstore are very engaging creations–and mainly male. You get a decent sense of New York City’s never sleeping city atmosphere. There are interesting references and allusions to great art and great books. There’s a slightly developed commentary on the demise of independent bookstores being put out of business by corporate run big box book retailers. This is a nice big plus because it supports the assertion that Esme, our thoroughly modern young woman on the academic art history move, has a decently educated mind in good working order–except when it comes to the entire concept of pregnancy. She’s clueless like so many young people these days when it comes to her biological nature beyond sex for fun. But I won’t hold that against her. She does have many good qualities along the tune of -> Yes, ladies it can be very cool to be well read, intelligent and interested in much more than the moron box taking center stage in many living rooms. For the most part I like Esme very much. Hang on to “for the most part” –the not most part when I don’t care for–or comprehend–Esme is part of what still has me on the fence regarding this book.
What’s got me on the fence? Esme’s love interest, Mitchell. For the life of me I can’t figure out what this young woman finds to love in this cold-hearted bastard. Being handsome is not enough–statues, male models, actors and non-famous dudes on the street can be very good-looking–but women don’t fall for them just because of the outer packaging–or do they? I guess some do. Maybe Esme is supposed to be one of those ladies? Perhaps it’s because she’s twenty-three and has a libido in good working order? I’m serious here, folks. if Meyler had given Mitchell a character profile beyond handsome economics professor from a wealthy family –I’m sure some of you are arguing that’s plenty, but it’s not in this context. Esme has too much going for her to be picked up by a handsome sexual predator running amok in NYC. Or does she? Maybe there’s something amiss with the young Miss? I’m still not sure after finishing the book–which I nearly gave up on several times because I had such serious trouble buying this particular woman and man connection. All the good things, bookstore, homeless people, Stella, George, Luke etc. kept me reading though–and the hope that Esme might get a clue or two regarding the man using her for nothing more than satisfying his own very manipulative dysfunctional ego. It’s not like she doesn’t have plenty of other men to compare this asshole to in order to see the light.
Mitchell’s character is a cliché in the extreme. Hence, I dislike him immensely. Disliking him is probably what Meyler had in mind. Problem is, he’s so dislikeable that it’s hard comprehending why Esme loves him. There’s nothing even remotely loveable about this guy as he is portrayed. If there’s some unwritten or edited out part of this novel that is loitering with intent to explain Esme’s feelings for this man, then it needs to get edited into the novel. Yes, women–and men–fall for the wrong sort of people all the time. True enough. But stating this guy has charm and giving him none at any point in time makes Esme come off as a complete dunce. It would help matters considerably if the reader got some glimpse of what lures Esme into loving this man. Yeah, the slam dunk sex foreplay in the women’s restroom fails to do that for me. It works for sexual attraction, but not for emotional attachment and involvement. Hmm. Maybe that’s Meyler’s point–that people confuse physical sexual attraction with emotional love attraction? Maybe. I’m not sure.
Oh–yes, Esme does have alternative love interest choices which appear to operate on a more positive level–or could. There are hints which I won’t spoil here for any interested might be readers. In many ways this is story about dealing with such relationship scenario. Perhaps it’s a modernized version of a very old cautionary tale for young women. It certainly works in that regard. Hmm, maybe this review is getting me off the fence as I air my concerns here. Maybe.
If anyone has run through The Bookstore’s very accessible pages and cares to comment on my fencing–please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts about any chapter or verse in the novel. So, was this quick and dirty enough? Oh a little short on the dirty–hmm–consider a toothbrush standing in for a vibrator. How’s that for a little dirty?
Meyler’s author page at http://authors.simonandschuster.com/deborah-meyler/408315626