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The Bookseller: Sliding Doors set in a bookshop

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The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . . Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . . Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped. Then the dreams begin. Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It's everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps. Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn? As the lines between her worlds begin to blur, Kitty must figure out what is real and what is imagined. And how do we know where that boundary lies in our own lives?


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The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . . Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . . Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped. Then the dreams begin. Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It's everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps. Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn? As the lines between her worlds begin to blur, Kitty must figure out what is real and what is imagined. And how do we know where that boundary lies in our own lives?

30 review for The Bookseller: Sliding Doors set in a bookshop

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    Not really sure what to make of this book. It left me scratching my head and digging for answers as to what I read. I'm confident I understand the direction Swanson was going, for me, it failed in execution. Needless to say my reading journey was severely stunted. Swanson undoubtedly stepped out of the box. She demonstrated her originality while clearly setting herself apart. I have mixed feelings regarding Kitty/Katharyn, she has good intentions yet she contradicts these intentions in many ways Not really sure what to make of this book. It left me scratching my head and digging for answers as to what I read. I'm confident I understand the direction Swanson was going, for me, it failed in execution. Needless to say my reading journey was severely stunted. Swanson undoubtedly stepped out of the box. She demonstrated her originality while clearly setting herself apart. I have mixed feelings regarding Kitty/Katharyn, she has good intentions yet she contradicts these intentions in many ways. This has to be the most boring book I have ever read. I kept with it hoping the excitement would unleash but it was a futile exercise. I stifled my yawns and made it through to the end feeling as if I could have used my valuable time otherwise. I wasn't a fan of the way autism was approached, yes the narrative is set in the 1960's contributing to the ignorance (fingers crossed) but it still made me very uncomfortable. I'm also not a huge fan of 'what if?' which of course is the premise of this book. The narrative was leaning towards 'tell' as opposed to 'show' and it made for one grueling ride. The ending was predictable adding to my frustration. After reading this book, spending time with Kitty/Katharyn it's official I love my life even more than I did prior to cracking this book open. This book is proof one should participate in life than be a spectator.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Laurel-Rain

    Kitty Miller and Frieda Green own and run a bookstore in Denver, Colorado. It is the 1960s, and their idyllic world includes books and all things bookish. But at night, Kitty lives in an alternate world created in her dreams: she is Katharyn Andersson, married to Lars, with triplets: Mitch, Missy, and Michael. And Michael is autistic. When Kitty first begins visiting her dream world, her life is almost perfect. But as she spends more time there, she realizes the challenges of this world. And then, Kitty Miller and Frieda Green own and run a bookstore in Denver, Colorado. It is the 1960s, and their idyllic world includes books and all things bookish. But at night, Kitty lives in an alternate world created in her dreams: she is Katharyn Andersson, married to Lars, with triplets: Mitch, Missy, and Michael. And Michael is autistic. When Kitty first begins visiting her dream world, her life is almost perfect. But as she spends more time there, she realizes the challenges of this world. And then, at some point, she must question which world is real? And which world is a dream? A captivating tale that took me back to what life was like for me in the 1960s where I could totally relate to both Kitty and Katharyn and what choices were involved for each version of the young woman she was. "The Bookseller: A Novel" was impossible to put down, and I didn't want it to end. Which version of reality would we finally have to accept? And what did these dream worlds tell us about the young woman and the choices she had to make? 5.0 stars.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    What's going on in publishing these days? Is the same designer responsible for all these covers? If so, good job, designer. You won again. These covers always pull me in because of course they do. Why wouldn't they? None of these books have lived up to their covers, sadly. Don't get me wrong. I liked this one. It's a solid story with good writing and an interesting premise. Unfortunately, I got a little tired of it. Also, it made me feel sad but not in the way I like to feel sad. It made me feel he What's going on in publishing these days? Is the same designer responsible for all these covers? If so, good job, designer. You won again. These covers always pull me in because of course they do. Why wouldn't they? None of these books have lived up to their covers, sadly. Don't get me wrong. I liked this one. It's a solid story with good writing and an interesting premise. Unfortunately, I got a little tired of it. Also, it made me feel sad but not in the way I like to feel sad. It made me feel heavy-sad, sort of sloggish, sort of burdened, though I think that was because the tale pinged on things in my own life that I'd rather not think about. That's on me, not the book. Synopsis: Kitty lives in Denver, Colorado, in the early ‘60’s. She starts the book as an artsy, single woman who owns a bookstore with her best friend. Something Wicked This Way Comes is newly released upon the world. At night, she dreams she has a totally different life in which she is a wife and mother and wears Jackie Kennedy-style clothing. Her two lives, the bookish life and the dream life, as well as her separate personas, could not be more different but the one thing that remains true in each is the love for and from her parents. So it’s funny how many of the things referenced aren’t there anymore, such as Rocky Mountain News. Vogue theater. MayD&F! “Monkey” Wards! Stapleton Airport. Those are all long gone but I remember many of them. But! Pearl Street is alive and well and even sports a little mystery bookstore. But, see, to me, all the name-throwing-outting made me feel as if this were written specifically for Denverites and those who have a more-than-passing knowledge of the city. A sort of love letter, which is nice because those are usually written about Paris and NYC and not our little state capital, but it was also a bit offputting because why does anyone need such specifics in a story if they don't live here? I live here (well, 30 minutes from the area in question) and even I was all, "Ok, ok. Get on with it. I don't care where you are." In addition, I was a little thrown out of the story by the over-exuberant commentary on racism. For instance, the kid next door talks about Willie Mays and how the color of his skin shouldn’t matter, it’s his skills as a baseball player that are important. Yes, that's true and it's great that this kid thinks that but the conversation didn't feel like it came about naturally. It felt shoehorned in to make a point and, thus, I was thrown right out of the flow. Later, at a dream party, Katherine mulls over how uncomfortable she is with the "colored help" and then thinks to herself that she was raised to go out of her way to treat people of color the same as she treats white people and that her dad worked with black people and her mom took care of babies of all colors, etc. so this whole only non-whites work for whites thing made her question society. While, yes, that's pretty much exactly what it sounds like when white women rationalize why they're not racist, does everyone have long, expository, internal thought-stories about how they feel on racism when they’re at a party? Because I don't. I have to talk about my racism out loud as soon as I realize I've said or done something horrible which, of course, makes it all worse and then I go and feel like a stupid asshole for days afterward. This happens way too often and it certainly is always loud and embarrassing but it is never stuck to the confines of my internal musings. But maybe other people have social enlightenment at parties? I don't know. Regardless, that, too, threw me back out of the story. So I had some quibbles. Overall, though, the topics of this story ((view spoiler)[loss and grief, reality, what one's mind will do to protect itself in times of unendurable stress, friendship, guilt, motherhood, and what-if's (hide spoiler)] ) are interesting and handled in a fashion that, as everything unfolds and the reader realizes what has happened, creates a sense sympathy for the main character in both her forms. It's a sad story but definitely worth the read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Cunningham

    Cynthia Swanson’s THE BOOKSELLER is ostensibly a story of two realities, one in which protagonist Kitty is a 38-year-old single woman who runs a failing bookstore with her life-long best friend and lives alone with her cat, and another in which Kitty (now called Katharyn) is married with three children, living the typical 1960’s suburban family life. Kitty-the-bookseller is convinced that her experiences as married Katharyn are dreams, a fantasy place she visits as she drifts off to sleep. As th Cynthia Swanson’s THE BOOKSELLER is ostensibly a story of two realities, one in which protagonist Kitty is a 38-year-old single woman who runs a failing bookstore with her life-long best friend and lives alone with her cat, and another in which Kitty (now called Katharyn) is married with three children, living the typical 1960’s suburban family life. Kitty-the-bookseller is convinced that her experiences as married Katharyn are dreams, a fantasy place she visits as she drifts off to sleep. As the dreams continue, Kitty begins to explore her world in the fall of 1962 in order to unravel the things she sees in Katharyn’s world in the spring of 1963. And she comes to the conclusion that if just one phone conversation she had eight years earlier had lasted a few minutes longer, she would be Katharyn, married to Lars, with three kids and a station wagon. If she had the choice, which would she choose, bookstore and best friend, or husband and children? This aspect of the novel is indeed intriguing, although I was quickly reminded of such films as “Sliding Doors” (1998) and “The Family Man” (2000), both of which involve characters who have visions of a different reality, a reality that might have happened had they made different choices. But ultimately THE BOOKSELLER isn’t really about alternate realities, or dream-states, or quantum leaps into different worlds. These fantasy elements are just plot devices for a story that really centers on the psychological struggles of a woman whose life hasn’t turned out as she hoped it would. Swanson tangles up her plot with questions about both women – is Kitty disappointed and depressed because she hasn’t met “Mr. Right,” or is Katharyn stagnating in her supposed suburban bliss? But it becomes clear fairly quickly that Kitty/Katharyn really has no choice. I totally enjoyed reading this book (I gobbled it up amazingly quickly), but I found myself loving Kitty-the-bookseller, with her cat and her adoring parents and her best friend Frieda and their little bookshop on a corner left behind when the streetcars stopped running in Denver. And while I’m sure I was supposed to want Kitty to be Katharyn, with her gorgeous husband and cute little triplets, I never did. Somehow, Katharyn’s husband never seemed like a real person – maybe he was too patient, too understanding, or his eyes were too blue. And their life – which is full of cocktail parties, fancy clothes, a loyal maid, and two cars – just seemed so much the 1960’s cliché that it annoyed me. Even as details begin to emerge revealing that the cliché isn’t as perfect as it at first seems, it just never felt real to me. What would a real person do if his wife suddenly told him that she had made him up, created him and their children from her imagination? Lars is very understanding, very patient, and his eyes sparkle in all their blueness . . . but I never quite believed in him. In the end, THE BOOKSELLER frustrated me, because what worked best in the novel was Kitty’s life with her cat, her best friend, her wonderful parents, and the struggling bookstore. What didn’t work as well was Katharyn’s fantasy romance, the kids, and the station wagon. If the choice was mine – and of course, it isn’t – I would have chosen Kitty’s life. As it is, there really isn’t any choice, and once Kitty/Katharyn realizes this she begins to understand what her dreams really mean. “There is no such thing as a perfect life,” Swanson writes, and that’s certainly true. And there is a suggestion at the end of this novel that Kitty/Katharyn will eventually find a way to merge both of her lives into one that might be satisfying, if not perfect. Even so, I felt a bit empty as I reached the final page, as if something wonderful had been truly lost. Maybe that was Swanson’s ultimate point. This is a well-written and engaging novel. I just didn’t respond to it as I expected to. [Please note: I was provided a copy of this novel for review; the opinions expressed here are my own.]

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tara Chevrestt

    I expected to love this story. It takes place in the sixties and follows an independent woman who owns a book shop. She begins living in a parallel world in her dreams at night. When awake, she's the bookshop owner with her best friend. She has a cat and loves her parents and is helping the neighbor boy learn to read. When she's asleep she's the mother of triplets with this blue-eyed husband who takes her to cocktail parties. There's a situation with one of the kids that I didn't know what to make I expected to love this story. It takes place in the sixties and follows an independent woman who owns a book shop. She begins living in a parallel world in her dreams at night. When awake, she's the bookshop owner with her best friend. She has a cat and loves her parents and is helping the neighbor boy learn to read. When she's asleep she's the mother of triplets with this blue-eyed husband who takes her to cocktail parties. There's a situation with one of the kids that I didn't know what to make of. Am I supposed to feel sorry for the mother? Am I supposed to learn more about aggressive autistic kids? Or am I supposed to believe that sixties' crappola about how if you're not there to raise your kids, they come out wrong in the head? Nevertheless, I gained nothing from this story line and did not enjoy it. If I was Katharyn, the mother and wife, I'd darn well make an alternate reality for myself just to get away. Actually, I gained nothing from this book. I feel mean saying that, but it's the truth. Parallel lives...would be interesting as heck if both lives weren't so dull. If I'm going to read about someone life--or lives--in this case, please make them more interesting and exciting than my own. Kitty--she goes to work, talks to her friend, talks to her parents, goes home and sleeps, and of course frets about this dream life. Katharyn--she does the motherhood/wifey thing, attends a cocktail party or two, shops, fights with her kid. What is supposed to appeal to me about either life? Kitty's life was dull and predictable, but Katharyn's life was not only dull--but intolerable. Would send me to the looney bin. And in between these boring lives, the book is filled with boring descriptions and histories. I don't care about Kitty's Freida's high school days. I don't care how the living room looks, from the windows to the carpet to the architecture. I don't care about the neighborhood or all the different people who live here or there. Long review short: this is the most boring book I've picked up in a while. It's a boring, over descriptive narrative following two extremely boring lives. And the ending really disappointed me. (A point in the book's favor: I did find the ending unpredictable. It seems most readers were predicting it all along. For me, however, I was surprised.) It's not the life I would have chosen...but then again, we don't get to choose our lives. We merely make tiny choices that lead to a big result and we have little control over things. http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/2015/...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Kitty Miller is single. She owns a business with her best friend, Frieda, and she is pretty contented with her independent life and her cat. Then she falls asleep one night and finds herself in an alternate reality in which she is Katharyn, a married woman with children, a loving husband, and a much more complicated but fuller life. Dreaming of this life once is like taking a trip, but Kitty dreams of this life over and over again and the line between reality and dreaming begins to blur. I adore Kitty Miller is single. She owns a business with her best friend, Frieda, and she is pretty contented with her independent life and her cat. Then she falls asleep one night and finds herself in an alternate reality in which she is Katharyn, a married woman with children, a loving husband, and a much more complicated but fuller life. Dreaming of this life once is like taking a trip, but Kitty dreams of this life over and over again and the line between reality and dreaming begins to blur. I adore authors who can take unbelievable, incomprehensible concepts and make them seem possible and real. Kitty as a character is interesting, believable and sympathetic. I began to care what happened to her and worry that she would be stuck in one of these lives when she wanted to live in the other. The plot and the tension build and when Swanson gives us the key to the puzzle, she does not cheat her reader with the manner in which she resolves this dichotomy. I thought this novel was well-written and great fun. I could not figure out what would prove to be true until the last reveal and I liked that it wasn't a choice between one good life and one bad life, but a choice between two worlds in which something would be lost on either side. Kudos to Cynthia Swanson for a story well-told.

  7. 5 out of 5

    RoseMary Achey

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Psychosis is the backbone of this novel set in the early 1960's Psychosis is a symptom of mental illness rather than the name of a medical condition itself. Broadly speaking, it means a loss of contact with reality. The affected see or hear things, people who are not there. In The Bookseller after the loss of her parent's in a plane crash, the main character has a prolonged psychotic reaction. After reading this book, you may have a severe psychotic reaction yourself...well perhaps not that dra Psychosis is the backbone of this novel set in the early 1960's Psychosis is a symptom of mental illness rather than the name of a medical condition itself. Broadly speaking, it means a loss of contact with reality. The affected see or hear things, people who are not there. In The Bookseller after the loss of her parent's in a plane crash, the main character has a prolonged psychotic reaction. After reading this book, you may have a severe psychotic reaction yourself...well perhaps not that drastic, but clearly you will want to scream you bloody head off! Save your time, money and sanity and skip this novel.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Denver 1962. Single gal, Kitty, runs a bookshop with her best friend, Frieda. Marriage and a family never became part of the plan, but Kitty has a good family and friend network and the faithful love of her cat, Aslan. Cynthia Swanson plays with the "What if?" question that often haunts us, as we get older. For Kitty it happens through her dreams. Into this alternate reality, Kitty is Kathryn, married to the blue eyed Swedish -American architect that answered her dating advertisement in 1954. Ka Denver 1962. Single gal, Kitty, runs a bookshop with her best friend, Frieda. Marriage and a family never became part of the plan, but Kitty has a good family and friend network and the faithful love of her cat, Aslan. Cynthia Swanson plays with the "What if?" question that often haunts us, as we get older. For Kitty it happens through her dreams. Into this alternate reality, Kitty is Kathryn, married to the blue eyed Swedish -American architect that answered her dating advertisement in 1954. Kathryn is the mother of 3 children (triplets) and her life is an endless round of parties and entertaining her husbands clients. Upon awakening,Kitty becomes transfixed making her life better, but also wanting to spend time with her dream family. Think "It's a Wonderful Life" meets "Inception." While I did read this book in one sitting, I am feeling a little ho-hum about it all. I find myself agreeing with many of the other reviews, I did like Kitty much better than Kathryn. Maybe the characters (Lars and the kids ) were just too perfect in the beginning for me to accept how everything played out in the end. I also felt a real disconnect between the Kitty and Frieda story. I failed to connect with their friendship, always feeling I was a mere observer and never immersed in the story.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alaina Meserole

    I don't know about you... but I would love to own a bookshop and have these dreams.. The Bookseller was a pretty interesting book. I feel like I flew through the kindle version because it just kept reminding me of other little books. Sort of like Outlander, but not really. In this book, you will meet Katharyn and Lars. Whenever she goes to sleep, well she wakes up in this different world (sort of). Maybe I should dive more into that? Same world but a different time zone is probably a bit easier t I don't know about you... but I would love to own a bookshop and have these dreams.. The Bookseller was a pretty interesting book. I feel like I flew through the kindle version because it just kept reminding me of other little books. Sort of like Outlander, but not really. In this book, you will meet Katharyn and Lars. Whenever she goes to sleep, well she wakes up in this different world (sort of). Maybe I should dive more into that? Same world but a different time zone is probably a bit easier to think about. When she is actually awake, she is a single hardworking woman who owns a bookshop and is painting her bedroom yellow. Hey don't hate on that sunshine-y color, because my bedroom at my dads house is yellow too. I wanted blue, but my dad compromised with yellow - close enough, right? Anyhoo, well when she goes to sleep.. she sort of wakes up to a husband and kids. Yup, you read that correctly. Now Lars is a handsome fella and their kids are beyond adorable. However, she doesn't know anything about them or this new version of herself. She doesn't like her actual name and goes by Kitty in her real life.. but in this one her husband calls her Katharyn. While reading this book, I'm so intrigued that she time travels while asleep - because sometimes dreams can seem so vivid. Yet, this is actually vivid for her. She remembers everything about it when she wakes up. I couldn't decide if this dream-like world would eventually become her real-life world.. or if she was going to get stuck in this dream forever. I just wanted to find out how it ended!! If I could change on thing about this book.. it would definitely be how she treated Michael. He's one of her kids and autistic.. but I feel like she definitely treated him differently than her other two - which made me frown. Now I know that most people don't know how to deal with autistic people or kids but it doesn't help when everyone notices that you treat one differently than the other. Before ya get all mad at me and shit, my older brother is autistic and my parents never treated him differently. If you talk to my aunts and uncles, well yes - they did treat him differently when we would visit and it honestly annoyed all of us. He's my brother and that's all I'm going to treat him as - he's not made of glass. We annoy and nag each other just like every day siblings - of course I don't tolerate him being bullied and either would my sister. Sorry about my little rant! Overall, it was a good and interesting book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    This Cynthia Swanson's first novel. The plot is set in Denver in the 1960s, Miss Kitty Miller(30) is single & dreams of a new life to be Mrs. Kathryn Anderson(30) married to a rich Man. - Kitty is a unhappy school teacher, from parents for failing their children. Her best friend, Frieda Green's advertisement job has too much pressure. They open a simple Sisters' Bookstore & must consider moving from the city to the suburbs were businesses are growing. Kitty is lonely & calls a "person This Cynthia Swanson's first novel. The plot is set in Denver in the 1960s, Miss Kitty Miller(30) is single & dreams of a new life to be Mrs. Kathryn Anderson(30) married to a rich Man. - Kitty is a unhappy school teacher, from parents for failing their children. Her best friend, Frieda Green's advertisement job has too much pressure. They open a simple Sisters' Bookstore & must consider moving from the city to the suburbs were businesses are growing. Kitty is lonely & calls a "personnel dating ad" for Lars Anderson & decide to meet but Lars does not show? - She dreams she is Mrs. Kathryn Anderson with Lars & triplets. But after waking, Kitty reads in the newspaper why he did not show a Lars Anderson death notice.... The plot continues flipping between the Kathryn dream & Kitty real worlds. She must consider what is gained and/or lost in either world. Later, she must step back to see if the best both worlds were ever possible?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gloria

    An interesting twist on the classic "what if" tale. One huge pet peeve: the crappy Spanish of Alma the housekeeper. Seriously, couldn't Harper get someone who actually knows Spanish to check that the author's Spanish was accurate? Btw, not only was it not accurate, it was actually ATROCIOUS.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    This was a read I quickly became immersed in. The gentle cadence and details of the story absorbed my attention and I couldn't put the book down this morning as my coffee grew cold. One of the aspects of the unfolding of the story was in the beginning there is a clear delineation between reality and the fantasy world that the main character dreams herself into. As the story reveals more, the lines between reality and fantasy blur, both for Kitty Miller/Katharyn Andersson and the reader. Toward This was a read I quickly became immersed in. The gentle cadence and details of the story absorbed my attention and I couldn't put the book down this morning as my coffee grew cold. One of the aspects of the unfolding of the story was in the beginning there is a clear delineation between reality and the fantasy world that the main character dreams herself into. As the story reveals more, the lines between reality and fantasy blur, both for Kitty Miller/Katharyn Andersson and the reader. Towards the end of the book, I was questioning which life was real and which was fake. When the reason for the entire dual realities is revealed, I was shaken. This is a book where the characters are easy to love. I cried at the end scene where she meets her parents on the street. I rallied with support when Katharyn embraces her reality and reclaims the aspects of her life that she needs to. Fantastic read and I recommend!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا

    This book is beautiful! B e a u t i f u l! Absolutely heart wrenching, heartbreaking, and heartwarming! The biggest question in this book is "What if?" It's bittersweet, surprising and talks about different subjects such as autism, grieve, ailment, love, friendship, books and family. It's also set in the sixties which is different and interesting. I highlighted ALL the books mentioned here! I must read them all!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jody McGrath

    Bittersweet. The book is about a woman named Kitty who lives another life in her dreams where she is Katharyn. It is one of those books where one decision could have lead to a different path. Or is it? This book had many layers, and presented some twists (which were blatantly obvious). It was well written and engaging, but at the same time predictable. It was a good read though.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Marla

    What an interesting concept. When Kitty Miller goes to sleep she is in a different life only a few months ahead of where she is now in her life. She is married with three kids. In her real life she is single running a bookstore with her best friend Frieda. Her dreams feel very real with her and she is finding out there are parts of her dreams she likes and parts of her awake life she likes. There are also parts that are disappointing in both lives. But are they really dreams. I really enjoyed th What an interesting concept. When Kitty Miller goes to sleep she is in a different life only a few months ahead of where she is now in her life. She is married with three kids. In her real life she is single running a bookstore with her best friend Frieda. Her dreams feel very real with her and she is finding out there are parts of her dreams she likes and parts of her awake life she likes. There are also parts that are disappointing in both lives. But are they really dreams. I really enjoyed this book an highly recommend it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    The Bookseller is a first-time novel for Cynthia Swanson. Katharyn/Kitty, the main character kept me engrossed in this novel from page one. In the Bookseller, Swanson takes us on a startling journey where a woman is thrust into an alternate world that might have been, if she had made different decisions. The Bookseller is a wonderful exploration of identity, love and loss. The 1960's tone is elegant, slightly mysterious, and thoroughly engrossing. The Bookseller's plot fascinated me, was well wri The Bookseller is a first-time novel for Cynthia Swanson. Katharyn/Kitty, the main character kept me engrossed in this novel from page one. In the Bookseller, Swanson takes us on a startling journey where a woman is thrust into an alternate world that might have been, if she had made different decisions. The Bookseller is a wonderful exploration of identity, love and loss. The 1960's tone is elegant, slightly mysterious, and thoroughly engrossing. The Bookseller's plot fascinated me, was well written and the many twists and turns kept me engaged until the final page. Katharyn/Kitty's journey kept me guessing. The Bookseller is an unique, intriguing read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Camie

    It's tough to say much about this book without giving away the entire plot. It's 1962 and Kitty is torn between two lives. One in which she's a conventional married mother of triplets, and the other where she's a single 38 year old woman who runs a small bookshop with her long time best friend Frieda. Presented in dreams and flashbacks the mystery is of course trying to figure out which parts are reality. The book references are fun, and what mother hasn't wondered what life would have been like It's tough to say much about this book without giving away the entire plot. It's 1962 and Kitty is torn between two lives. One in which she's a conventional married mother of triplets, and the other where she's a single 38 year old woman who runs a small bookshop with her long time best friend Frieda. Presented in dreams and flashbacks the mystery is of course trying to figure out which parts are reality. The book references are fun, and what mother hasn't wondered what life would have been like sans children ? ( maybe me, more than most having had 4 in 4 years with a set of twins to boot.) Pretty standard chick lit fare. 3 stars

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Beth

    I received an uncorrected proof copy of this novel from HarperCollins. In 1962 Denver, Kitty Miller is content with her unconventional life as an unmarried woman who runs a bookshop with her best friend, Frieda. That is until she begins to dream about an alternate path her life may have taken - one in which she goes by Katharyn and is married to the love of her life and is a stay at home mother. Kitty begins to question the path her life has taken at the same time that the division between her t I received an uncorrected proof copy of this novel from HarperCollins. In 1962 Denver, Kitty Miller is content with her unconventional life as an unmarried woman who runs a bookshop with her best friend, Frieda. That is until she begins to dream about an alternate path her life may have taken - one in which she goes by Katharyn and is married to the love of her life and is a stay at home mother. Kitty begins to question the path her life has taken at the same time that the division between her two lives begin to blur and merge. It's hard to discuss the conclusion of this book without giving away spoilers, but some discussion is necessary. I was concerned with how this novel could possibly conclude from its opening pages. I think the only explanation for Kitty/Katharyn's confusion of what is real life and not, for her apparent lapses in memory, is mental disturbance caused by grief. That being said, it was unbelievable that no one was more concerned about her apparent memory disturbances and periods of apparent incoherence where she would drift off into another world. I was disappointed by the way that Kitty "discovers" which world is reality; "This...is...it.' Rubbing my eyes, I look around. 'This is the real world'" (302). I thought there would be some clue that helped Kitty come rushing back her reality or some other grand realization rather than a sort of inane verbal confirmation of reality. Some serious suspension of disbelief is necessary to make the conclusion work. Additionally, I was a little disappointed that Kitty seems to be poised between choosing an "independent" life and the more conventional path of wife and mother. The narrative seems to confirm that being a mother is a more selfless way to live, which I don't necessarily agree with. "In that other life, I am the center of my world. Of course, I love and care about other people - many other people. But at the end of the day, my thoughts and actions are mainly about managing my own life and my own emotions" (272). It seems that Katharyn's role as a mother is viewed by Kitty as a more worthwhile pursuit. Yet Kitty's tutoring of her young neighbor Greg, and developing easy to read books for children who struggle to read like Greg could be seen as more selfless and pivotal for a larger number than her work as a mother. In short, I didn't like the assessment of the worth of one lifestyle over another - I see both as worthy choices. I found this an easy read, and was propelled easily through the narrative, curious to see what would happen with Kitty and her alternative reality Katharyn. It's interesting to me to contemplate how one's life could easily have taken a very different path. I thought her relationship with her best friend Frieda was an interesting element to the book, as was her autistic son, Michael. I appreciated that Katharyn struggled with parenting Michael - it made her seem human and realistic when she lost patience or felt at a loss with how to deal with a child, particularly since Michael would have been seen with significant stigma in the 1960s. On another note, Aslan, Kitty's cat, was most aptly named after the lion from the C.S. Lewis novel. It was appropriate that Aslan's namesake also comes from a work of fiction that features an alternate world. 3.5 stars

  19. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Kitty wakes up and she's not in her bedroom. She is in an unfamiliar room, but the last thing she remembers is painting her bedroom with help from her best friend and co-owner of their bookstore. What has happened? So begins Cynthia Swanson's compelling novel, The Bookseller. A handsome man comes into the unfamiliar room, claiming to be her husband, and reminding her that she has two young children who need her, one of whom is running a fever. But Kitty is not married and does not have children, a Kitty wakes up and she's not in her bedroom. She is in an unfamiliar room, but the last thing she remembers is painting her bedroom with help from her best friend and co-owner of their bookstore. What has happened? So begins Cynthia Swanson's compelling novel, The Bookseller. A handsome man comes into the unfamiliar room, claiming to be her husband, and reminding her that she has two young children who need her, one of whom is running a fever. But Kitty is not married and does not have children, and why is this man calling her Katharyn, her given name, instead of Kitty, the name everyone calls her? Kitty awakens from the realistic dream and it's still 1962 and she has to get to work at the bookstore, where Frieda will be waiting for her. Slowly we find out more about Kitty: she used to be a 5th grade teacher, she is very close to her loving parents, she was jilted by her long-time boyfriend and hasn't been dating much lately. Things at the bookstore haven't been going so well since the bus line that ran right in front of the store changed routes, and Frieda wants to consider moving the shop to a better location in a shopping center. But the dreams continue, where it appears that Kitty leads a completely different life. We find out more about her family, including the fact that her young son has autism. I found this fact very intriguing as I don't know how much was known about autism in 1962. In her dream life, Kitty and Frieda no longer own the store together, and they don't see each other anymore. She has trouble dealing with her son, while her loving husband seems more capable in this area. Some things are the same in her dream life and her real life. She has the same cat, and in her dream home, her photos are on the wall are the same ones in her real life. As her dream life goes on, it appears that something traumatic has happened. Her husband is concerned about her and he references things that have happened that neither the reader nor Kitty seem to be aware of. In her real life, Kitty begins to lose days. She doesn't know what has happened in the days prior, and things begin to confuse her. Fans of Liane Moriarty's What Alice Forgot will enjoy this page-turner of a novel, one that I finished in two sittings. Swanson weaves a riveting story, one that will keep the reader guessing as to what exactly is going on in Kitty's life to cause these dreams. Her descriptions of Kitty's surroundings are particularly well done, and that is no surprise considering the author is also a mid-century designer. I liked the characters, especially the relationships between Kitty and her parents and Kitty and Frieda. I found it interesting that the father knew how to better deal with the autistic son than the boy's mother, given that back in 1962 generally fathers were less involved with their children's daily lives than their mothers. The resolution of the story surprised me a bit, and I'm not sure exactly how I feel about it, but the journey Swanson took us on to get there was a thought-provoking, emotional and compelling one.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jackleen

    I went back and forth two or three stars. The writing quality was excellent but the plot construction was poor with a big- losing the reader why am I even reading this middle. The end was neatly done with a good twist and I can see what the writer was trying to accomplish. A Character moping around is not a good plot device. A rewrite would have done wonders for this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    1.99 on 02/08/17 It was okay, I came close to calling it quits more than once. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it was disappointing. My rating is more a 2.5. I often buy sale books, this one didn’t work for me. I could not connect with Kitty at all. Ready to move on!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    3.5 bumped to 4 At the beginning of “The Bookseller”, I thought, “goodie, book candy! I’m in the mood”. And then….”Something wicked this way comes”. The novel is told from the prospective of Kitty, aka, Katharyn. We learn that Kitty loves to dream and her imagination is impressive. As a big dreamer myself, I understood Kitty’s love of her dreamland. I’ve had more than a few occasions where I was abruptly woken and I think, “Wait, I want to finish my dream.” And, I’ve had the occasions where I abr 3.5 bumped to 4 At the beginning of “The Bookseller”, I thought, “goodie, book candy! I’m in the mood”. And then….”Something wicked this way comes”. The novel is told from the prospective of Kitty, aka, Katharyn. We learn that Kitty loves to dream and her imagination is impressive. As a big dreamer myself, I understood Kitty’s love of her dreamland. I’ve had more than a few occasions where I was abruptly woken and I think, “Wait, I want to finish my dream.” And, I’ve had the occasions where I abruptly awaken from a nightmare; confused until I realize it was only a dream. Where Cynthia Swanson shines in this novel is having the reader consider coping mechanisms and how dreams reflect our coping skills. Yet at other times, dreams are just our own entertainment system. In addition, Swanson has the reader considering stress; how little and big events add up and what mechanisms do we utilize to manage. The novel takes place in 1962 and 1963 Denver. Swanson’s historical references are entertaining. Given that Kitty is a Bookseller, the popular books in the time period is enjoyable to be reminded. It’s a great story about a woman’s choices and pressures, especially in the late 1950’s. The novel is entertaining. I read 6 hours straight one Sunday. For me, it shifted from book candy to thought provoking.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Bauter

    I've often wondered what my life would be like if a different path had been taken-- both literally and figuratively. Debut author Cynthia Swanson tackles this idea with her novel The Bookseller, in which a woman must reconcile the life she currently has with one that she could have had if things had been different. The alternate life begins to haunt her in her dreams, so much so that she starts to question her own reality. Set in the 1960s with countless cultural references (including books that I've often wondered what my life would be like if a different path had been taken-- both literally and figuratively. Debut author Cynthia Swanson tackles this idea with her novel The Bookseller, in which a woman must reconcile the life she currently has with one that she could have had if things had been different. The alternate life begins to haunt her in her dreams, so much so that she starts to question her own reality. Set in the 1960s with countless cultural references (including books that were popular at the time), I read it compulsively and was completely surprised at the ending.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Silvia Kay

    I bought the ebook for $2.99 and as such had very low expectations. It was a total impulse buy and honestly I wouldn't have cared too much if it had ended up disappointing me. I use Kindle sales to broaden my horizons and read books outside my comfort zone and/or by authors who are completely new to me. For some reason, I rarely end up giving them 5 stars. This time, though, I was rewarded with a book that far exceeded my wildest expectations. Things I loved (in no particular order): - the alter I bought the ebook for $2.99 and as such had very low expectations. It was a total impulse buy and honestly I wouldn't have cared too much if it had ended up disappointing me. I use Kindle sales to broaden my horizons and read books outside my comfort zone and/or by authors who are completely new to me. For some reason, I rarely end up giving them 5 stars. This time, though, I was rewarded with a book that far exceeded my wildest expectations. Things I loved (in no particular order): - the alternate-reality setting (which I was NOT expecting) - the bookshop in which Kitty works and the descriptions of books that go with it - the various plot twists (some of them EXTREMELY clever) - Katheryn's relationship with Lars - Lars - the overall message ('things are not what they seem') - the overall dramatic tension (why is Katheryn/Kitty jumping to and fro between two different realities? Are they both real?) Highly recommended to anyone who likes the sound of all of the above.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I so enjoyed reading this book. The premise was one that immediately intrigued me and I just knew I had to read it. From the moment I started the book I knew it was going to be one that would keep me up reading late in to the night. I felt as if I really got to know Kitty (Katharyn) and could really feel and understand her struggle between her real life and her imaginary life. Once I reached about the middle of the book I found that I did not want to put it down! There were many questions I had a I so enjoyed reading this book. The premise was one that immediately intrigued me and I just knew I had to read it. From the moment I started the book I knew it was going to be one that would keep me up reading late in to the night. I felt as if I really got to know Kitty (Katharyn) and could really feel and understand her struggle between her real life and her imaginary life. Once I reached about the middle of the book I found that I did not want to put it down! There were many questions I had about Kitty's two lives; her imaginary dream life started to become more and more real and there were so many questions left unanswered after every chapter spent there. I was quite surprised by the ending, it was not one I predicted and was a bit heartbreaking, but I loved every minute of this book!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Charlene Intriago

    I purposely didn't read any reviews of this book while I was reading it. I didn't want anything to spoil my read!! Kitty Miller and Frieda Green are best buds, have been that way since high school, and now they own a small bookstore "Sisters Bookshop" in Denver. But do they? Kitty keeps having recurring dreams. She's not Kitty - she's Katharyn and she's living a totally different life. She's married. She even has kids in these dreams. She loves the dreams but she loves coming back to her real lif I purposely didn't read any reviews of this book while I was reading it. I didn't want anything to spoil my read!! Kitty Miller and Frieda Green are best buds, have been that way since high school, and now they own a small bookstore "Sisters Bookshop" in Denver. But do they? Kitty keeps having recurring dreams. She's not Kitty - she's Katharyn and she's living a totally different life. She's married. She even has kids in these dreams. She loves the dreams but she loves coming back to her real life and being just Kitty with the bookstore. The dreams come back every time she sleeps and they seem so real. After awhile she can't tell which life is her real one. She's had some things happen that might make her want to live in a fantasy world and she's right on the edge of keeping her sanity. You can see how easy it would be to lose it. Great ending.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Judy Collins

    Cynthia Swanson’s debut, THE BOOKSELLER is a stunning, dreamlike, intriguing story of two worlds. One troubled woman in search of a different life. Caught between two mysterious worlds; confusing fact and fiction. This remarkable novel will transport you to another place. It is almost, spellbinding. Katharyn (Kitty) operates Sisters, a Denver bookstore she owns with her best friend, Frieda. She is single, loves her apartment and her lifestyle. They have been friends for years and worked so har Cynthia Swanson’s debut, THE BOOKSELLER is a stunning, dreamlike, intriguing story of two worlds. One troubled woman in search of a different life. Caught between two mysterious worlds; confusing fact and fiction. This remarkable novel will transport you to another place. It is almost, spellbinding. Katharyn (Kitty) operates Sisters, a Denver bookstore she owns with her best friend, Frieda. She is single, loves her apartment and her lifestyle. They have been friends for years and worked so hard to get the business loan; finally, their dream business. For some odd reason, when Kitty/ Katharyn, sleeps she is dreaming of a different life. She is married to a man named Lars, a successful architect. She is a housewife with children. He is talking to her in bed. He seems kind, good-looking, and thoughtful. Her mom would be proud, she landed this one with beautiful children, possibly twins? However, she cannot imagine living this life and caring for other people. She likes being independent. Who are these children? Why is anyone depending on her? Who is the housekeeper? Why is she here? Then she recalls her mom and dad are on a trip. A plane? She misses her mom and needs to talk with her. The other world. Set in the early sixties, everyone got married when they graduated from high school or during college. It was all about marriage before the ripe old age of 30. Here we have the main protagonist, Kitty/ Katharyn, a 38-year-old single woman who runs a failing bookstore with her life-long best friend and lives alone with her cat. However, when did the bookstore start to fail? Everyone loved quaint bookstores? What is this about malls and the internet? As she drifts off to sleep, her world spins out of control. Which life is real; is she married to Lars and do they have children? What happened to her old boyfriend, Kevin from years ago? Why is she home and not at the bookstore? What happened to her best friend? Are they estranged? From fantasy to reality, she almost seems to float between the two worlds. There is also a little boy named Greg, and she works with him creating stories of baseball as a children’s book. As the lines are blurred between single life and married life, she slowly begins to backtrack to piece together her life and when everything happened. As the dreams become more real, she recalls things in her life. There was a chance meeting. Does she need to choose which life she really wants? There is so much to this complex, yet alluring tale so do not want to give away any clues or spoilers. I really found myself drawn to the story. The audiobook narrated by Kathe Mazur, intensified the mood, transcending you to another place, as her soft voice put you inside the mind of the narrator, her confusion, the setting, and the emotions. Her delivery enhanced the overall experience, leaving you in a dream like mesmerizing state of mind (like the novel). If you are familiar with the sixties you will enjoy the books, music, clothing, and the scenes played out. Cannot put my finger on the book; however, for some reason I am strongly reminded of Ellen Meister’s The Other Life and Kristin Bair O'Keeffe’s The Art of Floating. Cynthia Swanson did an excellent job of holding your attention, with easy flow narrative, keeping you glued to the pages as you slowly solve the mystery of Kitty/ Katharyn, in this provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel of love, grief, tragedy, coping, fate, and life choices. Look forward to reading more from this author. JDCMustReadBooks

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nicole R

    Kitty is perfectly content with her life. It is the early 1960's, she co-owns a small bookstore with her best friend Frieda in downtown Denver, she lives in her cute apartment with her cat Aslan, and she has a wonderful relationship with her parents. Sure, in her late 30's she thought she would be married with a family, but Kitty appreciates everything she has. Until she starts having dreams of how her life could have been. The dreams are so life-like that they leave Kitty restless and disconnecte Kitty is perfectly content with her life. It is the early 1960's, she co-owns a small bookstore with her best friend Frieda in downtown Denver, she lives in her cute apartment with her cat Aslan, and she has a wonderful relationship with her parents. Sure, in her late 30's she thought she would be married with a family, but Kitty appreciates everything she has. Until she starts having dreams of how her life could have been. The dreams are so life-like that they leave Kitty restless and disconnected. In her dream life she is married to a wonderful man named Lars, lives a comfortable life in the Denver suburbs, and is a stay-at-home mother to triplets. Oddly, in her alternate reality there is no bookstore, and she appears to have no relationship with Frieda or her parents. As she dreams more and more often, she realizes that neither her real life or her dream life are perfect, but may she has something to learn about life, love, and herself. I enjoyed this book much more than I expected. When I started reading, I wasn't invested in this exact book. It was just conveniently available and I figured it was just as good as any other option. But, the story pulled me in very quickly and moved along at a very steady pace. There were a couple of twists but most of them were not surprising, but that did not take away from the story. I recommend this as a semi-light read that has more substance than fluff and is ultimately a story about love, being comfortable with your life, and coping with the unfair events life can throw at you.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Alan

    This is an original, evocative, beautifully written novel with a compelling story. Though it bounces from her real life—where she’s Kitty—into a dream life in which she’ goes by Katharyn and she has to figure out how this other life works by guessing, asking what must seem like silly questions, or sometimes remembering things suddenly—you as the reader are never confused about whether she’s in her real life as a single women working alongside her friend at a struggling book store or a married wo This is an original, evocative, beautifully written novel with a compelling story. Though it bounces from her real life—where she’s Kitty—into a dream life in which she’ goes by Katharyn and she has to figure out how this other life works by guessing, asking what must seem like silly questions, or sometimes remembering things suddenly—you as the reader are never confused about whether she’s in her real life as a single women working alongside her friend at a struggling book store or a married woman with three children, one of whom has special needs. The entire book is set in 1962. The married version of herself dresses, like so many women at the time did, like Jacqueline Kennedy. The unmarried version of herself dresses comfortably and with artsy colors. Both versions are likeable and you want the best for them both. The story is intriguing and well written. I recommend it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karen Ng

    A page-turner. The story happened in 1962-1963, and the author managed to incorporate lots of historical events into the storyline. For example: The Cuban missile crisis, the Kennedy's, Giants playing in the World Series, Gone with the Wind, and many books that I've never heard of (after all, she's a bookseller, no?) The reading experience (I couldn't put down the book in the beginning) and the setting are a solid 4, but the plot planning and technique are a 3 - by the middle of the book, everyt A page-turner. The story happened in 1962-1963, and the author managed to incorporate lots of historical events into the storyline. For example: The Cuban missile crisis, the Kennedy's, Giants playing in the World Series, Gone with the Wind, and many books that I've never heard of (after all, she's a bookseller, no?) The reading experience (I couldn't put down the book in the beginning) and the setting are a solid 4, but the plot planning and technique are a 3 - by the middle of the book, everything was a bit forced and predictable. The author carefully used the chapter before to plan what's going to happen in the next. I will still recommend this book to my book-loving friends. Who wouldn't love to read a story about what could have been; would have been? There would always be some regrets and sorrow in whatever life we choose, no?

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