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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry (2014)

by Gabrielle Zevin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,0475191,730 (3.98)361
When his most prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, is stolen, bookstore owner A. J. Fikry begins isolating himself from his friends, family and associates before receiving a mysterious package that compels him to remake his life.
  1. 40
    The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald (Micheller7)
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    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (bell7, BookshelfMonstrosity)
    bell7: Though one is set in contemporary times on a fictional island of the coast of Massachusetts and the other in post World War II England, both books show the importance of story and have an optimistic tone while dealing with some of life's challenges.
    BookshelfMonstrosity: A love of literature helps protagonists form unlikely but rewarding new relationships in these tender stories of personal redemption. The vibrant characterization, gently humorous tone, and whimsical, heartwarming narratives shine in compelling novels that illustrate the power of reading.… (more)
  3. 40
    Mr Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (sturlington)
  4. 00
    Silas Marner by George Eliot (TheDivineOomba)
    TheDivineOomba: The Storied Life of AJ Frikry is based off of Silas Marner.
  5. 00
    The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay (carriehh)
  6. 00
    Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof (Electablue)

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» See also 361 mentions

English (514)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (519)
Showing 1-5 of 514 (next | show all)
I liked it. It was a predictable tear jerker, but I still liked it. It weaves other novels into the story in a unique way that doesn't feel gimicky to me. ( )
  IVLeafClover | Jun 21, 2022 |
I need to sit on this one.
(Well, more like sleep on it - because I stayed up till 2am to finish)
I loved it.
Now I need to look for the words.
This book isn't for everyone. ( )
  QuirkyCat_13 | Jun 20, 2022 |
A depressed, grumpy, alcoholic bookseller grieving the loss of his wife discovers a baby abandoned in his bookstore. This premise doesn’t sound like it could be a cute, cozy read but it’s actually quite endearing even with it’s tidy, heart-string-pulling ending. This didn’t warm my cold, dead heart as much as I thought it would but it was the perfect reprieve from some of the other weirder things I was reading earlier in the month. ( )
  MC_Rolon | Jun 15, 2022 |
Long on my to be read list, it is such an incredible book that I am sorry I didn't pull it from my shelf earlier.

A.J. Firky lives alone, on an island, and he owns a lovely bookstore. His beautiful, smart wife died and he gets through the nights by drinking -- too much!

When a new book agent visits his office, he blames her for coming spontaneously. She reminds him they had a committed appointment. Thus, the relationship does not start out well.

When she highly recommends The Late Bloomer telling him she really liked this book. He then tells her what he does not like. Way too negative for Amelia, she needs to boast her sales and thus continues to haunt him.
Soon her intelligence and her quirky ways find a way into his heart.

Then, as he is ready to close the store, he finds a baby sitting in his book store. The package comes with a note asking A.J. Fikry to raise her baby. She cannot afford to keep the little girl, and the father of the baby does not want involvement. Because the baby arrives on a Friday, A.J. tells the social worker he will keep her for one weekend. By Monday, he is asking for help to adopt the charming little girl.

Two unexpected surprises for a middle aged negative man change his life in amazing ways.
The character development is lovely. The book brings laughter and tears. There is so much to like about this book from the first to the last page.

Highly Recommended!
4.5 Stars ( )
  Whisper1 | Jun 8, 2022 |
If television networks produced books, this would have HALLMARK CHANNEL emblazoned across the title page. It's sweet, competently written, undemanding, and the end delivers all the happily ever after you could want or need after a hard week at work.

What Hallmark boxes does this check? Count along with me! It's got a grieving, lonely widower desperate for connection, a cute-meet with a book agent who comes to his island bookstore plugging her company's winter line of books, an adorable orphan who falls instantly in love with the curmudgeonly gent, a colorful best friend/wing man (the local police chief) who provides both support and comic relief, just the right number of "fish out of water" vignettes as Fikry - with the help of the internet - awkwardly learns how to father a child, a colorful community populated by engaging eccentrics, a witty, bookish flirtation (because Fikry and the book agent are book people - get it?), a misunderstanding, an unexpected upheaval, a reconciliation, a revelation having to do with a theft that occurs at the outset of the tale, and a wholly satisfying if bittersweet ending. Seriously, all this is missing is a dog.

Having said, I don't want to leave the impression that this was formulaic and sloppy. Zevin's deft prose avoids cliche and there's nothing sloppy about her plotting. If you're paying attention, you'll enjoy the extent to which she's interacting with her readers throughout this, as she slyly plays with the same literary devices and tropes that Fikry discusses along the way. (In true Chekov's Gun fashion, you can be sure the copy of Poe's Tamarlane that is stolen at the beginning of the tale will turn up again by the end; and because Fikry despises books with no character development, that Fikry's character will develop over the course of this tale. Also enjoy the ample foreshadowing, symbolism, and situational irony.)

One thing I enjoyed about the book were the insights into bookselling, particularly from the perspective of an independent book store owner. Others, like myself, should enjoy the chance to wander among perilously-leaning stacks of galley proofs, deliberate over inventory selection, and endure the myriad discomforts of planning and hosting an author event. There are also lots of literary references here, but never fear: almost every book mentioned can be found on the life list of a reasonably literate book lover. Zevin's literary allusions are drawn from The Time Traveller's Woman and Moby Dick rather than Everything is Illuminated or Ulysses. Much like the background music track at a restaurant deliberately mixed to incorporate your favorite songs, this creates a comfortable and welcoming ambiance that invites the reader to relax, slow down, and enjoy the story as it unfolds.

In summary, while this may not be an intellectually demanding book, it's an enjoyable story with plenty of heart and a comforting dose of hope for all the lonely people out there. ( )
1 vote Dorritt | May 14, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 514 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zevin, Gabrielleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Biekmann, LidwienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dompè, MaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Estúdio InsólitoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guitry, AuroreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Important places
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Awards and honors
come on, sweetheart
let's adore one another
before there is no more
of you and me.
For my parents,
who furnished my formative years with books,
and for the boy who gave me
The Stories of Vladimir Nabakov
all those winters ago.
First words
On the ferry from Hyannis to Alice Island, Amelia Loman paints her nails yellow and, while waiting for them to dry, skims her predecessor's notes.
They had only ever discussed books but what, in this life, is more personal than books? (p. 18)
You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book? (p. 87)
Amelia knows she should hang up, but she doesn't. Some part of her wants the story. What is the point of bad dates if not to have amusing anecdotes for your friends?
Her mother likes to say that novels have ruined Amelia for real men.
In Amelia's experience, most people's problems would be solved if they would only give more things a chance.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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When his most prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, is stolen, bookstore owner A. J. Fikry begins isolating himself from his friends, family and associates before receiving a mysterious package that compels him to remake his life.

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Gabrielle Zevin's book The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

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Average: (3.98)
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HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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