Monday, July 2, 2012

A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé

TITLE: A Novel Bookstore
AUTHOR: Laurence Cossé
PUBLISHER/YEAR: Europa Editions/2010
GENRE: Adult Contemporary
SOURCE: Local Library

Goodreads / Author's Page (Publisher's Website)

A Novel Bookstore is a love letter to books. Not just any books mind you, but good books; books that make you feel, books that can comfort and cure. However, I'm not sure if the book itself is a good book going simply by its own definition. 

I enjoyed reading Cossé's A Novel Bookstore. Two unlikely partners, a bookseller with a checkered past and wealthy heiress meet at a bookstore in a small town in the Alps and dream up their ideal bookstore. It would be a bookstore devoted to selling only good books. It would be a place where customers lingered and made suggestions. The books sold at the store would be ones that served a purpose. The bookstore was a rejection of fast books and books written solely for profit. It was to turn the literary world on its head. Of course there is intrigue. Outside forces not wanting them to succeed, angry authors, angry publishers and challenges of elitism. This is the basic premise and I have to tell you, it caught my attention. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this bookstore that came to fruition and all its struggles. I was rooting for it. I myself would love to venture into a place like that, a place where every book you picked up was bound to be good. A Novel Bookstore read at times like  a business plan for The Good Novel (the name of the store) and dragged a bit at the beginning. Once I got past the first third or so I thought that the pace really improved. 

I also enjoyed the love story and the interwoven human drama. It wasn't overstated. I would describe the romances as literary if that makes any sense at all. Things were implied and looks were described, but the reader is left to interpret a lot. I liked that, it saved the romance from becoming an overwhelming focus. 

I often found myself wondering if I should have been reading this book in its original French instead of in English translation. I thought I lost a lot of meaning and subtleties because I read a translation. Romances and relationships are tricky to navigate in this book and are incredibly dependent on language. There are things in English and French that just don't translate; for instance, there is much discussion over the vous versus the tu. The vous being more formal. It stuck out when reading in English and just made me think, what else am I missing? If I can't follow the relationship as closely in English as in French, what other little details are lost to my eye? 

Yes, i enjoyed this novel. It was captivating. So why did I begin my review by stating that it didn't live up to the standards of being a GOOD novel? It wasn't a life changing read. I loved that it was a love letter to novels. I really did. I loved that it satired the modern book publishing industry. There were sections I wanted to write down so I could quote them forever, it so perfectly summed up my feelings towards certain books. It however, felt more like a manifesto stating a love of great books rather than being one itself. It's good. I will recommend it and it has given me an entirely new list of books to look into. For that, I'm grateful. 

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