Saturday, 24 May 2014

The storied life of AJ Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin

From the publisher's blurb

In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books—and booksellers—that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

My thoughts ...

What drew me to this book was the comparison to The Guernsey literary and potato peel pie Society and Pilgrimage of Harold Fry both of which I loved. Perhaps that placed an expectation in my mind and tinted my anticipation with a faint colourwash of disappointment when I found it quite dissimilar in style to either of these books.

Nevertheless, what this book is, is a charming and witty look at life through the eyes of a curmudgeonly bookseller who is finding lifes miseries and setbacks are outnumbering his erstwhile pleasures and his life is no longer something to be anticipated and even his beloved books can't cheer him up.

Then he receives a delivery he isn't expecting and along with it comes the opportunity to shed a little light on his dark thoughts and brings with it the realisation that there are after all people in his life who care.

Peppered with literary references this book is cleverly written to appeal to its own target audience (booklovers and readers everywhere)

If you're looking for intelligent romantic fiction with quirky characters and zany humour, look no further, enter the book filled life of AJ Fikry.

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