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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Bookseller

ISBN: 0062333003

Publisher: Harper

Publication Date: 3/3/2015

Format: Other

My Rating: 4 Stars

A provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel reminiscent of Sliding Doors, The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams

Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . .

Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped.

Then the dreams begin.

Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It's everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps.

Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn?

As the lines between her worlds begin to blur, Kitty must figure out what is real and what is imagined. And how do we know where that boundary lies in our own lives?

About the Author

My name is Cynthia Swanson ...and I'm a writer and designer.

I started out in college (a long time ago) majoring in Architecture, because I have always loved design, and I thought I needed to pursue a "practical" career. But after 2 years, I went back to my first love - writing - and changed my major to English. I was a freelance technical/marketing writer for many years.

All the while, I aspired to a creative writing career. Now that my debut novel, The Bookseller, is out from HarperCollins, I concentrate on writing fiction and personal essay.

Still, the design world continues to draw me in. I especially love mid-century design, and I'm constantly thinking of ways to enhance and improve our mid-century home. I'm also thrilled to discuss home design projects with others. Website Twitter Goodreads

My Review

Cynthia Swanson’s debut, THE BOOKSELLER is a stunning, dreamlike, intriguing story of two worlds. One troubled woman in search of a different life. Caught between two mysterious worlds; confusing fact and fiction. This remarkable novel will transport you to another place. It is almost, spellbinding. Katharyn (Kitty) operates Sisters, a Denver bookstore she owns with her best friend, Frieda. She is single, loves her apartment and her lifestyle. They have been friends for years and worked so hard to get the business loan; finally have their dream business. For some odd reason, when Kitty/ Katharyn, sleeps she is dreaming of a different life. She is married to a man named Lars, a successful architect. She is a housewife with children. He is talking to her in bed. He seems kind, good-looking, and thoughtful. Her mom would be proud, she landed this one with beautiful children, possibly twins? However, she cannot imagine living this life and caring for other people. She likes being independent. Who are these children? Why is anyone depending on her? Who is the housekeeper? Why is she here? Then she recalls her mom and dad are on a trip. A plane? She misses her mom and needs to talk with her. The other world. Set in the early sixties, everyone got married when they graduated from high school or during college. It was all about marriage before the ripe old age of 30. Here we have the main protagonist, Kitty/ Katharyn, a 38-year-old single woman who runs a failing bookstore with her life-long best friend and lives alone with her cat. However, when did the bookstore start to fail? Everyone loved quaint bookstores? What is this about malls and the internet? As she drifts off to sleep, her world spins out of control. Which life is real; is she married to Lars and do they have children? What happened to her old boyfriend, Kevin from years ago? Why is she home and not at the bookstore? What happened to her best friend? Are they estranged? From fantasy to reality, she almost seems to float between the two worlds. There is also a little boy named Greg, and she works with him creating stories of baseball as a children’s book. As the lines are blurred between single life and married life, she slowly begins to backtrack to piece together her life and when everything happened. As the dreams become more real, she recalls things in her life. There was a chance meeting. Does she need to choose which life she really wants? There is so much to this complex, yet alluring tale so do not want to give away any clues or spoilers. I really found myself drawn to the story. The audiobook narrated by Kathe Mazur,intensified the mood, transcending you to another place, as her soft voice put you inside the mind of the narrator, her confusion, the setting, and the emotions. Her delivery enhanced the overall experience, leaving you in a dream like mesmerizing state of mind (like the novel). If you are familiar with the sixties you will enjoy the books, music, clothing, and the scenes played out. Cannot put my finger on the book; however, for some reason I am strongly reminded of Ellen Meister’s The Other Life and Kristin Bair O'Keeffe’s The Art of Floating. Cynthia Swanson did an excellent job of holding your attention, with easy flow narrative, keeping you glued to the pages as you slowly solve the mystery of Kitty/ Katharyn, in this provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel of love, grief, tragedy, coping, fate, and life choices. Look forward to reading more from this author.

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