Book review: ‘The Bookseller’ by Cynthia Swanson


Thirty-eight-year-old Kitty Miller is perfectly happy with her life. It’s the ‘60s, and except for the Cuba thing, life is good. Though she and her business partner, Frieda, haven’t found the men who were meant for them, they have adjusted to the sisterhood that they have. They are partners in a small bookstore, and until lately they have been doing well. A change in the streetcar route has curtailed the street traffic to the point where the viability of the store is in question. So, the discussions regarding a move to a shopping center are ongoing. Among other things, where to get the money is a concern.

For no apparent reason, this is when the dreams start. Kitty would fall asleep in one bedroom and wake up in another; not only was she in another bedroom, but also here she had a family: a husband and three children. And they all knew and loved her even though she didn’t know them. What could be more complicated than picking up your life in the middle, even if it was only an imaginary life. But it seemed so real. At some point she would wake up in her own bedroom and resume her real way of life with no memory of what had preceded there either, but the same concerns were there as had been before.

So, a pattern developed. She would fall asleep, dream, and have to deal with two alternate lives. In her real life, she learned that her “husband” had not even lived to have a first date, just a long phone conversation. In her dream life, she found various excuses to have people fill in the blanks. At first, the dream life seemed ideal, but as she came to know the situation better, she was desperate to escape. The main problem was that in the dream life, her parents had been killed in a plane crash. She knew that wasn’t true because she had picked them up at the airport. Why was this happening to her? How could she make it stop?

I was sure that the author could not develop a believable ending to this story. I was wrong.

Also by Cynthia Swanson: “The Glass Forest.”

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