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The Stranger Bookshop by Joanna O'Neill
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The Stranger Bookshop

by Joanna O'Neill

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I loved it. I loved the viewpoint that it was written from. I loved the mix of characters. The storyline kept me guessing the whole time.
I've been reading a few books lately, written from an older viewpoint, and its been quite refreshing to be honest.
The book made me want to run out and buy my own quaint bookshop!
The various storylines wove well into each other, and I felt that it ended on a nice high.
As a nod to the author, I've already bought another one of her books!
Keep writing. I look forward to reading 'A World Invisible'! ( )
  Kiwimrsmac | Nov 29, 2017 |
I discovered the author Joanna O’Neill in April of 2010 and read her trilogy consisting of
A World Invisible, A World Denied and A World Possessed – a most interesting set of novels about parallel worlds – as they were published. Since that trilogy was so good, I could hardly wait for her next book, hoping that it would be of the same quality. I now have finished reading The Stranger Bookshop. It did not disappoint.

On the front cover is the question, “When is a ghost not a ghost?” I could tell you, but it would spoil the fun. This book is hard to review because there are so many little twists and turns that to tell you all the fascinating things in it would involve so many spoilers you needn’t read the book.

The plot is about a young woman who inherits two bookshops, sells one and keeps the other. The one she keeps is closely associated with and used to be the home of Edith Waterfield. That is actually only part of the plot, which is divided into “Then,” “Now” and “Once.” In spite of the three different time periods, there is no difficulty in following the storyline when alternating between them.

Edith lived with her sisters, Ruth and Lillian. They lived alone in the large house, all the brothers, except Edward, having been killed during World War I. They were among the many “surplus” women living in the village of Ravensburn in Northumberland. The story is partly about the courting of the sisters by young men, none of whom Edith cared for, but Lillian married Billy, whose face was badly mangled during the war. It was so bad that he had to wear a mask. Edith never married but “lived in sin” with John – a dream if there ever was one. Ruth moved away from the family home.

Edith was an aspiring author and worked on her book as often as she could. She was not the homemaker type, though her sisters performed domestic tasks. They had a helper, but she drowned and circumstances deteriorated from there on. Edith did try her hand at making a quilt, but the stitches weren’t even, so she never finished the quilt. By the time the bookshop changed hands, Edith had become a famous author of mostly children’s books, as she had written only one book for adults.

Bryony, the owner of the bookshop, and Rosalind, her helper are quite different; or so they think. Their meeting is rather strange. Perhaps serendipitous would be a better word, for it is indeed that.

Saying much more would give away too much of the story. The characters are a mixed bunch. You will love some and dislike some. The mysteries keep coming and eventually are solved, though the last one is not solved until the very end. It’s like when you pull on a loose string, and the whole sweater unravels. The Stranger Bookshop is well-written and easy to read. I recommend it highly and give it five out of five stars. ( )
  Boobalack | Jun 5, 2014 |
Lovely book really engaging storyline and characters with good twists and turns I would highly recommend this book as I could not put it down! ( )
  maximeg | May 6, 2014 |
A sweet and gentle book that was brilliant for a wet afternoon, I just couldn't put it down! I am now off to hunt out more things by this delightful author. ( )
  lizlupton | Apr 21, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0956443265, Paperback)

Bryony opened the door, stepped over the threshold and saw all the books, spines outward on the shelves, faces forward on the displays, stacked on the tables and stools and on the floor, and her first thought, as always, was: Mine. And then, as always, she cocked her head, listened and sniffed, and her second thought was: Is he here? This is a story about the power of imagination; it is also about books, cats, wood-engraving and bad photography; but most of all it is about a secret. In the remote Northumbrian village of Ravensburn, struggling to run a bookshop which was once the home of cult author Edith Waterfield, Bryony is short, opinionated, death to software and desperate for help. Passing through and with time on her hands, Rosalind is hesitant, competent with computers and unable to say 'No'. This might work. While in 1921 young Edith falls hopelessly in love with the hero she has created in her own novel, in the present day Bryony and Rosalind are just as distracted by the mysteries that beset them: why did Edith stop writing in her fifties? Why are her photographs so blurry? Where did all her cats go when she died? And above all, what was in the chapter torn out of the sole surviving first edition of the novel that launched her? As Bryony and Rosalind delve into Ravensburn's past the truth that begins to emerge is stranger than dreams, for it isn't only the living who leave ghosts.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:27 -0400)

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