A Novel Bookstore
By: Laurence Cossé
Two people decide to team up in Paris and open a bookstore that sells only “good” books. Books chosen by a special and secret committee to wade through all novels. You would think this would be a great thing and for a little while it is. Only soon the bookstore is under siege from jealous rivals, idiots who think their trying to tell them what to read and just generally people who get their nose in a twist at anything.
Which doesn’t seem like a big deal until someone starts attacking the “secret” committee members.
A Good Novel had a super interesting premise especially for someone whose into books of all kinds. The back and forth and the politics that sprouted up did serve to make me angry because hell, I could see it happening today.
I mean technically as pointed out in the book- there are plenty of stores in Paris to get you’re best sellers and if you really, really want a book they don’t carry they’ll order it for you. But still apparently something different can’t exist. The fear that other people are somehow passing judgement on what you do and don’t read doesn’t seem to stop people from passing their own judgements. I was also interested in how they formed the committee and how they decided in the books.
What books would you chose for truly good novels? Especially when you’re supposed to chose hundreds. If a group of ten of us got together we’d have some crossovers sure but I bet we’d chose some truly different novels.
But there were two problems with this book for me. One- you get the attacks first and then the massive part in the middle about the history of the store and everything else so that the mystery is somewhat forgotten and by the end not that important as the two main characters Van and Francesca.
I don’t want to give spoilers but essentially Van and Francesca who are both middle-aged and have a great love of books are derailed as she’s somehow madly in love with Van who spends the novel chasing a maddening hard to get younger woman. I suppose the emphasis is on the young because mostly I just found that character bloody annoying. At one point as a reason for some of her strange reactions to him it’s said he reminds her of a stepfather implying he’s abusive. Oh lovely. Great relationship there. And I really hated where the whole thing went.
This is the second novel I’ve read recently translated from French and perhaps it was the story but it just didn’t feel as smooth to be as A Winter’s Promise I wound up liking that story a lot more so I wish I had the knowledge of French to say whether it was a translation issue.
So The Novel Bookstore was a fascinating look at books and ideas I just ate up. (Seriously I would so shop at this bookstore!) But in the end I wasn’t big on the execution and I disliked where the characters wound up so much I wound up not liking the characters at all.
Recommend: Not really. But if the book angle sounds interesting and you think you can overlook the rest go for it.