There are two Madelines!
One Madeline is recently deceased and the other is her heiress. The older woman, known to her friends as Maddie, bookshop owner and friend to everyone except her brother, lost her battle to cancer and left her business and indeed her legacy and her entire community to her niece, Madeline. Before she died, Maddie also wrote letters to Madeline and to her former employees Janet and Claire. Each letters includes a reading list meant to help the woman traverse the next steps in picking up the pieces and forming new relationships in the small town of Eagle Valley.
That’s one version of the story of the two Madelines…
Thirty-something year old Madeline also has two identities. She is a brilliant young lawyer, Northwestern graduate about to make partner at a Chicago law firm, too busy with her cases to make the forty-mile-trip when her aunt was dying but now contemplating giving it all up to become absorbed in the life that Maddie built because she remembers a summer spent there when she was a teen, the comfortable atmosphere that Aunt Maddie and Uncle Pete created and how it felt like an amputation when she was suddenly yanked from it. So Madeline has to assume some part of a new identity to finally get the answers to the family secret that has plagued her life and stolen the years she can never get back. And she just might find it within the printed letters in her aunt’s bookshop
The Printed Letter Bookshop is a book of contradictions; it is a challenging literary novel with references to and quotes from classic characters as well as Biblical text, yet it is also a feel-good comforting read with tantalizing descriptions of food and sensual references to flowers and scents. The characters are well crafted to mirror different aspects of each other so we have three women who both have lost their connections with their families but with different levels of visibility; there are three characters who use visual art to represent their passion; there are multiple characters who bury their gift or training and blame others for the sacrifice. Yet, the author takes the time to give each situation in its own unique resolution, showing that there are a myriad of ways to get back on the right path after you’ve lost your way.
The Printed Letter Bookshop is a booklovers delight with titles splashed on every page and friendships turned romances blooming in the spaces between bookshelves. I absolutely loved the warm cozy feeling that reading these characters stories invoked as well as the familiarity of bumping into another favorite literary character when Madeline or Janet or Claire would reference them in conversation. Thankfully, I knew going in, that the appendix contains a list of the titles mentioned so I could revisit all the literary references afterwards. I loved that!
The Printed Letter Bookshop is a delightful book and I gave it 5 stars for how exquisitely the author treated the cycles of death and rebirth, winter and spring, pain and new opportunities and making your own way after experiencing a setback but more so, for how the inspirational message whispered beneath but didn’t detract from the charmingly literary story.
- Title: The Printed Letter Bookshop
- Author: Katherine Reay
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 336
- Publication Date: May 14, 2019
- Publisher: Thomas Nelson