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The Bookshop of Yesterdays (2018)

by Amy Meyerson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8905718,644 (3.47)46
THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER Best Books of Summer 2018 Selection by Philadelphia Inquirer and Library Journal "Part mystery and part drama, Meyerson uses a complex family dynamic in The Bookshop of Yesterdays to spotlight the importance of truth and our need for forgiveness." --Associated Press A woman inherits a beloved bookstore and sets forth on a journey of self-discovery in this poignant debut about family, forgiveness and a love of reading. Miranda Brooks grew up in the stacks of her eccentric Uncle Billy's bookstore, solving the inventive scavenger hunts he created just for her. But on Miranda's twelfth birthday, Billy has a mysterious falling-out with her mother and suddenly disappears from Miranda's life. She doesn't hear from him again until sixteen years later when she receives unexpected news: Billy has died and left her Prospero Books, which is teetering on bankruptcy--and one final scavenger hunt. When Miranda returns home to Los Angeles and to Prospero Books--now as its owner--she finds clues that Billy has hidden for her inside novels on the store's shelves, in locked drawers of his apartment upstairs, in the name of the store itself. Miranda becomes determined to save Prospero Books and to solve Billy's last scavenger hunt. She soon finds herself drawn into a journey where she meets people from Billy's past, people whose stories reveal a history that Miranda's mother has kept hidden--and the terrible secret that tore her family apart. Bighearted and trenchantly observant, The Bookshop of Yesterdays is a lyrical story of family, love and the healing power of community. It's a love letter to reading and bookstores, and a testament to how our histories shape who we become.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
from Mom ! ( )
  Overgaard | Sep 14, 2021 |
Love stories about books, book stores, libraries and such. This one was built around Shakespeare's last play, "The Tempest". At times well conceived and written, at others maddeningly juvenile. Does have a fairly original plot line. ( )
  SusanWallace | Jul 10, 2021 |
A literary treasure hunt mixed with family secrets and a struggling bookstore in need of saving!

Miranda Brooks used to be close with her uncle Billy, but when she is 12, he and her mom have a falling out and she never sees him again. Sixteen years later she learns of his passing... and receives a copy of The Tempest along with a note from Billy. The first clue in a final scavenger hunt like the ones he used to create for her when she was little. It leads her to Prospero Books — Billy’s bookstore and Miranda’s inheritance — as she uncovers, piece by piece, the truth about Billy’s past and the reason for his estrangement.

I really enjoyed this one! It had a gentle pace, which felt right for the story, and it had the perfect balance of mystery and family drama and the magic and nostalgia of being in a bookshop. The big reveal at the end was just right, too: surprising, but not completely out of left field, and with enough room afterward to give the characters an emotionally satisfying conclusion. ( )
  vvbooklady | May 12, 2021 |
I was reading for hours into the dark of the night, until I finished The Bookshop of Yesterdays. As a former bookstore owner and bookseller of many decades, this book was extremely satisfying whenever the bookstore remained the central character in the story. Unfortunately, it got a little clunkier the further it got away from the bookstore and became about the character’s love lives.

The story centers on Miranda, who was living with her boyfriend, Jay, a fellow middle school history teacher in Philadelphia, when she learns that her beloved Uncle Billy has died in Los Angeles. She returns to LA, her parents, the funeral, and Billy’s small independent bookstore, Prospero’s Books. And then, through Billy’s will, she learns that she has inherited the struggling store.

She hasn’t seen Billy for sixteen years, because of some mysterious argument between her mother and her uncle Billy around her twelfth birthday. Miranda, her mom, and Billy were once all very close. Billy would let Miranda have the pick of the store’s books, created scavenger hunts just for her, and they simply loved each other’s company. She returns to the bookstore to find that it’s struggling financially (true of most independents) and it has a seemingly dysfunctional staff, also true of many independents. She finds that there’s one last scavenger hunt left by Billy for her to solve, and the answers illuminate her past, and change her present and future. The scavenger hunt uses mostly clues from books on the store’s shelves or some left with friends. [Okay now, a hunt that depended on clues in the books on the shelves of a bookstore—left sixteen years ago—seems a weak point in the plot. Even in a slow-moving bookstore, things change enough in SIXTEEN years to derail any step-by-step, book-by-book linkage.]

Eventually the clues lead her to discovering that the store was originally owned by Billy’s little known and then pregnant wife, Evelyn. Miranda also learns that Evelyn died in the couple’s rustic cabin from carbon monoxide poisoning during a blizzard. Billy and the unborn baby survived by luck and a caesarian. Billy always felt responsible for his wife’s death, as he had put off some important repairs. In the end, he left the baby with his sister and brother-in-law to raise.

Miranda kept putting off her return to Philadelphia and Jay, as the store demanded her attention. As she solved more of the scavenger hunt’s clues, she learned why her mom and Billy had a huge blow up and why Billy never contacted any of them again.

The mechanics of running a small, struggling, independent bookstore is well represented in this story. The store’s small eccentric staff are enduring, curious, and dysfunctional, as they tend to be. People work in small bookstores for many wonderful reasons, but rarely any that are financial. The constant struggle to keep the store going was very familiar, including all the appeals to the customer base, the general public, and all the brainstorming sessions with anyone who will meet. In those times, you listen to everything, and try most anything.

I admit to being prejudiced when I noticed on the copyright page that the book’s publisher was a division of Harlequin. Though I found the characters interesting to a point, the relationships never felt like they were between actual people. The staff, the customers, and some of the writers were interesting, but it all seemed a little too-cute-by-half. The major “secret” of the book is so obvious that I found myself wondering just how damaged or intelligent Miranda’s character was supposed to be.

That said, much of the book caused me to be very emotional, but that had much more to do with my life and not the writing. I almost said heavy-handed writing, but I so enjoy most any story with a bookstore connection that I repeatedly gave the plot some slack, even though it’s so manipulative. Poor Jay, her “boyfriend” from Philadelphia, was a creep, making their relationship one of the worst parts of the story, but at heart, Miranda was a weak character as well. The love stories of all the characters were the problem, but I was always in it for the bookstore. I couldn’t buy many of the relationships in this book, but a bookstore is always an interesting character. ( )
  jphamilton | Apr 28, 2021 |
Miranda Brooks spent her childhood in frequent visits to her Uncle Billy's bookshop, Prospero Books, learning a love of reading and literature, and solving the scavenger hunts he set for her. She also spent time wondering if he would show up for expected visits, or be suddenly called away by his real job, as a seismologist responding to major earthquakes all over the world.

Then, when she was twelve, her mother and Billy had a major falling-out, and Billy disappeared from her life. Miranda didn't hear from him again for sixteen years. She was by then living on the east coast, in Philadelphia, teaching eighth grade history, and living with her boyfriend, Jay.

Billy has died, and had arranged for a book to be mailed to her. It contains the first clue in the last scavenger hunt he set up for her.

He has also left his bookstore, Prospero's Books, to her. Unfortunately, it's in serious danger of bankruptcy.

Soon Miranda is back in Los Angeles, attending Billy's funeral, and following his clues, as each clue leads her to a person who has both information about Billy, and another clue.

She's also staying with her parents, at least initially. This gets tense, because her mother--who has never been willing to say what she and Billy argued about--is determined to "protect" Miranda from whatever she might learn by looking into Billy's past. Miranda, naturally, doesn't at all like the idea of being "protected" by being kept ignorant.

While this is going on, she's also getting to know the bookstore again, and its current staff, and finding, perhaps, a new "found family."

I was really drawn into the story. Miranda, the staff at Prospero Books, and what she gradually learns about her family's past are absorbing.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook. ( )
  LisCarey | Feb 14, 2021 |
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What's past is prologue.
The Tempest
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The last time I saw my uncle, he bought me a dog.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER Best Books of Summer 2018 Selection by Philadelphia Inquirer and Library Journal "Part mystery and part drama, Meyerson uses a complex family dynamic in The Bookshop of Yesterdays to spotlight the importance of truth and our need for forgiveness." --Associated Press A woman inherits a beloved bookstore and sets forth on a journey of self-discovery in this poignant debut about family, forgiveness and a love of reading. Miranda Brooks grew up in the stacks of her eccentric Uncle Billy's bookstore, solving the inventive scavenger hunts he created just for her. But on Miranda's twelfth birthday, Billy has a mysterious falling-out with her mother and suddenly disappears from Miranda's life. She doesn't hear from him again until sixteen years later when she receives unexpected news: Billy has died and left her Prospero Books, which is teetering on bankruptcy--and one final scavenger hunt. When Miranda returns home to Los Angeles and to Prospero Books--now as its owner--she finds clues that Billy has hidden for her inside novels on the store's shelves, in locked drawers of his apartment upstairs, in the name of the store itself. Miranda becomes determined to save Prospero Books and to solve Billy's last scavenger hunt. She soon finds herself drawn into a journey where she meets people from Billy's past, people whose stories reveal a history that Miranda's mother has kept hidden--and the terrible secret that tore her family apart. Bighearted and trenchantly observant, The Bookshop of Yesterdays is a lyrical story of family, love and the healing power of community. It's a love letter to reading and bookstores, and a testament to how our histories shape who we become.

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