A.J. Fikry owns a failing bookshop. His wife has just died, in tragic circumstances. His rare and valuable first edition has been stolen. His life is a wreck.
Amelia is a book rep, with a big heart, and a lonely life.
Maya is the baby left on A.J.’s bookshop floor with a note.
What happens in the bookshop that changes the lives of these seemingly normal but extraordinary characters?
This is the story of how unexpected love can rescue you and bring you back to real life, in a world that you won’t want to leave, with characters that you will come to love.
What I Thought:
The UK title of this book is The Collected Works of A. J. Fikry but in the US, it’s The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. I think I prefer our title, but I can see where confusion might arise, with people thinking perhaps it was a book by A. J. Fikry, rather than a novel by Gabrielle Zevin.
At its very heart, this book is one for the book lovers. Each chapter has a short note from A. J. discussing one of his favourite books or short stories, and when we discover the reason for this, it’s heartbreaking. A. J.’s bookshop is the perfect secluded retreat for any lover of books and bookish things, but at first A. J. himself is one of those snobbish booksellers, looking down on genre fiction and thinking that literary fiction is the only quality reading.
There are definite reasons why A. J. is the way he is when we first meet him – grumpy, isolated, snobbish – but all that changes as Maya comes into his life, and we watch her grow, teaching A. J. a thing or two along the way.
Although the emphasis is on books and the bookshop, this story has a very human relationship at its heart, and shows the warmer side of living in a small community – from the petty annoyances of it, to the realisation that there is always someone there to support you, whether you know it or not.
This is definitely a book for those who love books, and the narrative is full of recommendations – there should be a further reading list in the back!
Note: I was sent a copy of this book to review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.