Esme Garland is a British 23 year old in Manhattan on a full-ride art history scholarship at Columbia when she meets the charming, handsome, irresistibly sexy Mitchell van Leuven. In over her head, she is happily drowning in love (and lust!), when she is sent abruptly to the surface and the real world. First, she discovers she is pregnant, then, when steeling herself to tell Mitchell, he breaks up with her, saying he finds their sex life too dull.
Upon coming to terms with her situation, Esme sets out to put her new world on track – starting with a job to supplement her scholarship. She finds employment at The Owl, a used book store with an idiosyncratic staff and group of regular customers. They take her in as well as taking her on as her pregnancy continues. And then Mitchell returns…
The continuing story gets better and broader in scope as Esme learns more about herself and what is truly important to her and in life in general. The characters are well developed and the story line ultimately evolves into a good, thought-provoking reading experience.
I was not initially engaged by either the story or Esme – I found her a bit disingenuous for a seemingly bright graduate student at a prestigious university. Then I began to reflect on being 23 and the relative sanity of some of my own non-academic decisions. Book smarts don’t necessarily mean life smarts; experience and thought take precedence there. That’s where Esme, and some of the supporting cast, began to blossom and became more real and appealing as did the story line.
Great literature – no; well worth reading – definitely; The Bookstore entertains as well as educates; not a bad combination!