Title: Lo strano caso dell’apprendista libraia
Author: Deborah Meyler
First published August 20, 2013
341 pages, Hardcover
ISBN: 9788811682448 (ISBN10: 8811682444)
Esme has always found solace in the pages of her books, so when she stumbles upon The Owl, a charming bookstore on the Upper West Side of New York City, it feels like fate. The store is said to have hidden treasures, like a rare first edition of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, and among its dusty shelves, Esme feels at home.
So when a “help wanted” sign appears in the window, she jumps at the chance to become a bookseller. At 23 and pregnant with no idea of what the future holds, Esme is eager to learn everything she can about the bookstore.
She’s surrounded by a quirky cast of characters: George, who believes words can change the world; Linda, who always has a book recommendation; David, who dreams of being an actor; and Luke, who communicates through his guitar. Together, they teach her the art of understanding a reader’s desires and, in turn, saving their day.
But just as Esme finds her footing, her ex-boyfriend Mitchell returns, unaware of her pregnancy. Suddenly, Esme is faced with a difficult decision.
Does she still want him back? Or has she found a new home among the shelves of The Owl?
In this heartwarming tale, Esme discovers the power of literature, music, and friendship to guide her towards her true path.
About the Author
I was born in Manchester, in the north of England. The M62, one of the busiest motorways in the country, was within sight and sound of my home.
I could also see the Pennine hills from my bedroom window, which is still my bedroom window because my mum still lives there.
When I turned 17, I went to Trinity College, Oxford. I chose it because the photo in the Oxford handbook looked nice.
I didn’t think I had a chance of getting in, and neither did my teachers. Perhaps they thought it was due to my class and lack of good schooling rather than my intelligence.
I fell in love with Oxford and still love it to this day. I’ll admit that I’m guilty of using the cliche of Brideshead and quoting Evelyn Waugh, who said, “I remember no syllable of them now, but the other, more ancient, lore which I acquired that term will be with me in one shape or another to my last hour.”
After Oxford, I completed an M.Phil at St Andrews University, where I fell in love with the place. I then won a scholarship from The Guardian to attend City University for a post-graduate diploma in journalism.
I then followed my husband to America, where he was offered a job by Cambridge University Press. I wasn’t allowed to work at first, which made me feel lonely, but I eventually found a job in a bookshop.
I then had three children and decided to stay off work entirely while they were little. However, I found it hard to deal with the piety and wrongheadedness that made me think it was a good idea to opt-out of work entirely.
Once my children became old enough to go to school, I put my youngest daughter into nursery for a few hours a day and started writing. I wrote a book that I keep under my bed, and then I wrote The Bookstore, which I enjoyed writing immensely.
Although it was challenging to overcome idleness every day, I found a fantastic agent through a friend named Siobhan Garrigan, who is a remarkably wise person despite her youth.
Now, I work part-time in a parish church in the center of Cambridge while organizing my thoughts and ideas for a new book.
Deborah Meyler’s Lo strano caso dell’apprendista libraia is a charming and witty exploration of love, literature, and self-discovery. The novel, first published on August 20, 2013, follows the life of a talented graduate student, Esme Garland, who plans to pursue a doctorate in art history at Columbia University in New York City.
However, her life takes an unexpected turn when she is abandoned by her boyfriend, Mitchell, and becomes pregnant with his child. Despite the challenges posed by her pregnancy and financial constraints, Esme takes up a job at the Page Turners bookstore, where she discovers a passion for literature and meets a diverse cast of characters who become her friends and mentors.
Meyler’s writing style is engaging and fluid, with a keen eye for detail and a playful sense of humor. The author weaves together literary references and cultural commentary seamlessly, creating a vibrant and authentic world that is both captivating and thought-provoking.
The characters Meyler has created are wonderfully complex and relatable, with their flaws and strengths both adding to the richness of the narrative. Esme, in particular, is a character that readers will root for as she navigates the challenges of motherhood, work, and relationships.
One of the strengths of Lo strano caso dell’apprendista libraia is its focus on the transformative power of literature. Meyler adeptly uses the bookstore as a symbol of the transformative potential of reading, creating an atmosphere in which characters are inspired, enlightened, and uplifted by the books they encounter.
The novel also explores themes such as the value of community, the importance of following one’s passion, and the search for identity and belonging. While the book is a delightful romp that is sure to please lovers of contemporary fiction, it is not without its weaknesses.
Some readers may find the plot predictable, and the characters, while endearing, may verge on cliché in places. Additionally, the novel’s approach to some themes, such as privilege and poverty, may be seen as simplistic or naive.
Overall, Lo strano caso dell’apprendista libraia is an enjoyable and uplifting read that is perfect for anyone looking for a heartwarming story about literature, love, and the endless possibilities of life. While it may not be the most groundbreaking novel of its genre, it is a charming and well-crafted work that is sure to delight fans of Deborah Meyler’s writing.
The Washington Post gives the book 4 out of 5 stars.