Summary from Goodreads:
In this thought-provoking, wise and emotionally rich novel, New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs explores the meaning of happiness, trust, and faith in oneself as she asks the question, “If you had to start over, what would you do and who would you be?”
There is a book for everything . . .. Somewhere in the vast Library of the Universe, as Natalie thought of it, there was a book that embodied exactly the things she was worrying about.
In the wake of a shocking tragedy, Natalie Harper inherits her mother’s charming but financially strapped bookshop in San Francisco. She also becomes caretaker for her ailing grandfather Andrew, her only living relative—not counting her scoundrel father.
But the gruff, deeply kind Andrew has begun displaying signs of decline. Natalie thinks it’s best to move him to an assisted living facility to ensure the care he needs. To pay for it, she plans to close the bookstore and sell the derelict but valuable building on historic Perdita Street, which is in need of constant fixing. There’s only one problem–Grandpa Andrew owns the building and refuses to sell. Natalie adores her grandfather; she’ll do whatever it takes to make his final years happy. Besides, she loves the store and its books provide welcome solace for her overwhelming grief.
After she moves into the small studio apartment above the shop, Natalie carries out her grandfather’s request and hires contractor Peach Gallagher to do the necessary and ongoing repairs. His young daughter, Dorothy, also becomes a regular at the store, and she and Natalie begin reading together while Peach works. To Natalie’s surprise, her sorrow begins to dissipate as her life becomes an unexpected journey of new connections, discoveries and revelations, from unearthing artifacts hidden in the bookshop’s walls, to discovering the truth about her family, her future, and her own heart.
|I’d never read Susan Wiggs before but The Lost and Found Bookshop came across my radar in the HarperCollins catalog. Romance set in a bookstore? Sign me up! It was a fun read. I liked this book, but I didn’t LOVE it like I wanted to.|
There’s a lot going on here. Natalie suffers the dual loss of her mom and her boyfriend in the same plane crash, but then also finds that her mom’s bookshop in San Fransisco is almost a complete financial loss and her grandfather is very slowly eroding away as dementia sets in. The handyman her mother hired to do the urgent repairs on the historic building (Peach) turns out to be a competent, (very) attractive, book-reading guy with a cute book-obsessed kid. Plus there’s a lot of family history to discover in the building since it dates back to before the 1906 earthquake. So there’s a lot to work with. The storyline of Natalie’s grandfather, Andrew, and his POV chapters are handled so well, with great sensitivity to both how he feels as his memory slips more and more and also the stress it places on Natalie to care for him as he “relives” her mother’s death every time he forgets and remembers.
But the book felt a little flat to me. There’s a secondary character, a middle-grade author, introduced to give Peach some competition in the “love interest” department. That guy has a secret that, when it was finally revealed, I found very hard to believe that it hadn’t been leaked already due to the Rick Riordan-level of fame the guy had. Consequently, so much time is spent with Guy B that the actual romance with Peach is crammed into the very end of the book. So it’s a very slow burn that could have used a lot more pining and spending time with each other alone, in my opinion (i.e. at no point did I want to yell “just kiss you dorks” at the book). I also felt that the author didn’t follow through on some details. It’s noted that Natalie has the kind of abs you only get from yoga class – but we never see her take a yoga class or any sort of physical activity of any kind (I don’t recall her ever thinking about it, even to lament being too exhausted to bother with exercise or missing space for a daily yoga practice or something). And then late in the book some weed is smoked without ever referencing this before (look, the weed is fine, they are in San Francisco, but it just felt out of left field particularly when it’s noted Natalie finished off her mom’s Ambien prescription earlier in the book). And so on. These are little nitpicky things because they feel tacked on as a way to try and flesh out character. They pulled me out of the scene like snagging my finger on a splinter.
So there were a lot of pieces of this book I really liked, but they didn’t all fit together in the most satisfying way for me.
The Lost and Found Bookshop is out July 7!
Dear FTC: I read a paper galley of this book that we received at the store in our last galley box before COVID19 hit.