“The Bookseller” by Cynthia Swanson, New York : Harper, .
Kitty Miller is an unconventional single woman in the 1960s that is happy with her life running a small bookstore with her best friend. She is beyond the point of settling down and starting a family, which is what is expected of young woman during this era. So when the dreams begin, she is both intrigued and surprised by them.
Realistically ‘awakening’ into a world where she is married to the love of her life, Lars, and together they have beautiful children, an elegant home and good friends. Known as Katharyn in her dream life, she is surprised by every interaction. Unexpected answers to questions pop into her head about a life that she knows nothing about. Upon awakening, she spends her free time exploring the possibilities of her dream life. The decision that saved Lars’ like in her dream was unmade in her real life, so they never ended up meeting in person. The family friendly neighborhood in which they built their dream home, is under construction but currently mostly open lots.
As time passes and the dreams become more frequent, Kitty begins to learn more and more about her dream family. She has three beautiful children, that she soon learns are triplets. One of which is diagnosed with autism at the age of two. This discovery lead Katharyn to abandoning her friend and her bookstore to focus on taking care of her family. Every new discovery about this life seems so real that the lines between dream and real life are beginning to blur.
There was some much about this novel that was entertaining to read but also educational for this time period. The stigma was prevalent during the sixties for women to become the perfect wife and mother, so Kitty’s unconventional life as single female business owner is refreshing to read about. And to pick one educational item that was unfamiliar, when autism was first being diagnosed it was considered the mother’s fault due to lack of attention and/or care given to the child. What?!? Since there is even now not a clear cause for autism, for this to be considered the diagnosable problem from doctors is crazy.
“The Bookseller” by Cynthia Swanson is a nice, lighthearted read. With themes that include family and friend relationships, dealing with emotional trauma, autism and more it is a well-rounded plot that keeps you turning pages.
Susana Goldman is the Associate Director of Operations for the Alamance County Public Library. She can be reached at (336) 290-8679 or firstname.lastname@example.org.