Patti Callahan Henry are an automatic buy for me. Now, I didn't buy her latest, The Bookshop at Water's End, but...of course I said yes to a review copy!! Plus, the title attracted me. It sounded like a book about books, which is like music to my ears.
For lifelong friends, Bonny and Lainey, the small town of Watersend, South Carolina, is where they spent many happy summers -- earning them the nickname "the Summer Sisters." Whenever possible they escaped to the town bookstore, making a lifelong connection with the store's owner, Mimi. However, those idyllic summers didn't last. One day Lainey's mother abruptly left the family, abandoning her daughter and son, Owen. Lainey and her brother were never the same afterward. Lainey would spend the next several decades searching for the mother who didn't want to be found. Meanwhile Owen would spend his time globe-trotting and never setting down roots and never forming a lasting romantic relationship--much to Bonny's dismay.
Ever since she was a young girl, Bonny has always been in love with Owen. But they've never been in-sync. Owen comes in and out of Bonny's life, constantly afraid of commitment. Bonny's heart could no longer take it, she had to move on. But moving on came at a price. Marrying Lucas, a prominent lawyer, brought joy and pain. Their daughter, Piper, brought the joy. But Lucas' constant criticism and disdain for Bonny's career as a doctor brought the pain. Now in her fifties, a deadly mistake forces Bonny to take a hard look at her life. What does she want for her career? Her marriage is over, does this mean it's time to face her feelings for Owen? The answers don't come easy. The only thing Bonny knows for sure is that she needs to get away, and she needs her best friend.
After decades spent away from Watersend, Bonny and Lainey go back to the place of their many happy memories. This time their children are in tow, with the now teenage Piper looking after Lainey's children, Daisy and George. Piper doesn't see the point of toiling away in a small town for the summer. But even Piper has issues that she needs to confront. She's failing at college and her boyfriend has left her. Like her mother, Piper isn't sure what she wants out of life. The only thing Piper is sure of? Her love of books. Like Bonny and Lainey did when they were younger, Piper finds solace reading a book at Mimi's shop.
I do have to say the title of this book is a little bit misleading. I thought everyone's love of books would play a larger role. But the book angle was more of a backdrop, than a dominant theme. Little issues aside, what works here is Patti Callahan Henry's talent for creating relatable characters. Everyone can relate to the highs and lows that come with marriage, friendship, family, and love.
Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Berkley) in exchange for an honest review.