Author: Cynthia Swanson
Narrator: Kathe Mazur
Published: March 2015, Blackstone Audio / Harper (print)
Length: 11 hours 32 minutes / 338 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Publisher
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?
My thoughts: I think we all wonder at times what our life would be like if we had taken an alternate path...that ever present "what if" question. What if I had done this instead of that? What if I had gone here instead of there? Cynthia Swanson's debut novel tackles this and a whole lot more and it's a book that once you begin, you will have a hard time putting down.
I loved the premise of this book. Aren't there times in this world that we all wish our dreams were reality? Those dreams that seem so real, so vivid? Every time Kitty goes to sleep, she finds herself in another world, and known not as Kitty, but as Katherine. But each story line gives us clues as to who she really is. And what a great character she is. I just loved her. I loved the way we find out all the different facets of her life and what makes her her. She is charming and you just want to know what's going on with her. Why is she having these dreams and how is this all going to end?
This is a book that will make you think about the choices you have made in your life. What if you had made different ones? What impact would that have made? I remember having the same thoughts after watching the movie Sliding Doors, one of my favorite movies. This book is similar with that parallel story line, but will have you questioning which one is really real and each time you think you have it figured out, something will happen to cause you to reconsider.
This is one of the best books I've read this year and I will definitely be hanging on it to. I'm fortunate, once again, to have both a print copy and the audio version. Having listened to it this first time around, I think that next time - and there will definitely be a next time - I will read the print version. But in the meantime, I'll be watching Sliding Doors again soon and keeping an eye out for what comes next from Cynthia Swanson!!!
Audio Thoughts: I loved listening to this book on audio. Kathe Mazur did a fantastic job with the narration. The voices were great and she just pulls you into the story, making you want to do nothing but listen all day, until you finish it. She was the perfect voice for both Kitty and Katherine, making you really connect with her. It was a great audio production.
About the author: Cynthia Swanson is a writer and a designer of the midcentury modern style. She has published short fiction in 13th Moon, Kalliope, Sojourner, and other periodicals; her story in 13th Moon was a Pushcart Prize nominee. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and three children. The Bookseller is her first novel.
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The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson is one of the She Reads "Books of Spring" reading selection picks.
Head over to the She Reads website to read reviews and related posts of this book, as well as posts related to the other "Books of Spring" selections.