A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé, Translated from French by Alison Anderson

Feb 4, 2011

A NOVEL BOOKSTORE  is about a novel bookstore.   The Novel Bookstore is a unique Parisian bookstore which sells only  novels chosen by a select committee of authors who agree to remain anonymous--this alone would be unique!   This bookstore is the brain child and dream of the two main characters Van and Francesca.  They share a passion for what they define as the well written word.  Van possesses  the experience and knowledge needed  to manage a bookstore of this  caliber. The haunting, elegant  Francesca is like a small business fairy godmother.  She seems to have unlimited resources and connections to make the store a success.  This pair has lofty, noble goals for their one of a kind bookstore.  They plan to sell only  the crème de la crème of literature.   They are not prepared to have enemies.

The story of Van and Francesca is not told in the beginning.  The story begins quite mysteriously as three of the supposedly anonymous authors become victims of crafty, but malicious assaults.  Eventually, we learn how and why the Novel Bookstore came to be as Van and Francesca tell their very detailed stories to  Heffner the elusive, literate police detective investigating the attacks on the authors of the secretive selector committee. 

This is an intriguing story, but it takes some effort and concentration to finish.  For example, the narrator changes from a third  person account to an occasional "I" midway.   This technique is confusing, but makes sense in the end.  This book has great appeal with  magnificent settings, a mystery, romance, political intrigue, ethical dilemas, and trivia for the bibliophile.  But I can't help wondering if the Novel Bookstore would sell  A NOVEL BOOKSTORE!

Reviewed by Library Staff