The Bookseller: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Virgie's Staff Pick, July 2015:

This story takes place during the cultural landscape of the sixties. Kitty, a bookseller and bookstore owner has a rather simple, idyllic life until she begins having dreams about another life, in which she is called Katharyn.

Her dreams become more vivid, and with more frequency, until Kitty/Katharyn can no longer determine which life is real and which life is imaginary. Her night dreams blend into her daytime reality, and she feels as if she is dreaming madness.

But which life is the dream?

As a reader, I was perplexed! Until the end I kept changing my prediction of which life was reality.

I just had to know how this story would end!

Author Cynthia Swanson finds her home in Colorado, and even gives a mention of Steamboat Springs in her novel! We so enjoyed her visit to the store at the beginning of this month!

— From July 2015 Staff Picks


A provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel reminiscent of Sliding Doors, The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams.

Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . .

Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped.

Then the dreams begin.

Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It’s everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps.

Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn?

As the lines between her worlds begin to blur, Kitty must figure out what is real and what is imagined. And how do we know where that boundary lies in our own lives?

Praise For…

“Cynthia Swanson’s novel will make you think about the paths you could have taken—but even more so, what you can learn from them to make your reality richer.”

What if? These words tantalize and haunt us. In The Bookseller, writing with a sharp-tinged empathic pen, Cynthia Swanson takes us on a startling journey where a woman is thrust into the alternative world that might have been, had she made different choices.”

“Cynthia Swanson’s The Bookseller is both a delightful and haunting exploration of identity, love and loss. With great style and compassion, the author asks the age-old question: ‘What if my life were different?’ The answers in this affecting debut novel are truly surprising.”

“I inhaled The Bookseller. I loved both of Kitty’s worlds, and refused to put the book down until I saw how the tension between the two worlds resolved. A deeply satisfying read.”

“Swanson masterfully crafts both Kitty’s and Katharyn’s worlds, leaving open the question of which of them is real until the final pages. Swanson’s evocative novel freshly considers the timeless question, ‘What if?’ ”

“The novel delivers on its fantasy scenario like a modern-day fairy tale…. proves highly satisfying.”

“Dexterously traversing past and present, fact and fiction, Swanson’s clever first novel ingeniously explores the inventive ways the human spirit copes with trauma.”

“This is a stunner of a debut novel, astonishingly tight and fast paced. The 1960s tone is elegant and even, and Kitty/Katharyn’s journey is intriguing…. This will especially resonate with fans of the movie Sliding Doors and the authors Anna Quindlen and Anita Shreve.”

“Swanson’s debut novel is slightly mysterious and thoroughly engrossing, one of those books that will stay with the reader long after it is complete.”

“This is the story of a woman coming to terms with who she is; both woman and novel are beautiful.”

“. . . An accomplished first novel. It is interesting, intriguing, and ultimately satisfying.”
Product Details
ISBN: 9780062333001
ISBN-10: 0062333003
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015
Pages: 352
Language: English