Charming story of a storied life

This story takes place in a purple Victorian cottage, which is in fact a small, intimate bookstore, situated on an island named Alice. What more could a really avid reader wish for?

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

By Gabrielle Zevin

Viking Publishing

This story takes place in a purple Victorian cottage, which is in fact a small, intimate bookstore, situated on an island named Alice. What more could a really avid reader wish for?

Island Books is owned by A.J. Fikry. Of course, he is more than a bookseller — the sign over the store says: “Island Books, Alice Island’s Exclusive Provider of Fine Literary Content since 1999,” and under this, “No Man is an Island, Every Book is a World.”

It really matters to A.J. what people read, so he does not stock dross.

He is grumpy and combative, and presently his bookstore is not doing well.

The reason is that the store was first established by A.J. and his wife, Nic, and now she is dead.

He is 39-years-old and slowly becoming an alcoholic.

Amelia Loman is the new book rep for Knightly Publishing House.

She has come to Alice Island by ferry to show A.J. the new list.

She is a replacement for the former rep who has died.

A.J. is in no mood to entertain a new book rep and no one told him the former one had died, so he not so gently tells her to leave.

So we know where this is all going.

Some books are more easily entered than others, and we are off to a slow start.

Things pick up when someone leaves a small child in the bookstore. Pinned on to the child’s Elmo doll is a note urging A.J. to care for the child since the mother cannot.

Maya, the little girl, says she is two years old.

In fact, she says many things that most two-year-olds don’t say. OK, she is precocious, and of course she changes the life of A.J.

This is not a very deep story and it is a bit predictable.

The character of Amelia is well developed and she is likable and believable.

As the bookstore becomes more successful, the town people add to the story.

Also, every chapter begins with a synopsis of a title that is pertinent to the coming action, and they are well done.

The presence of a child in his life is changing A.J. for the better, so would we be surprised if he found new love?

Other details in the story are: the theft of a rare and valuable edition, not kept under lock and key in this very small summer village; a charming resident author who keeps forgetting who he is married to; and a police chief who rediscovers the joy of reading and brings the entire police force with him to readers club.

To say nothing of the author asked to do a reading and he seems unfamiliar with his book.

I got a bit nostalgic for the old independent bookstore eking out a living, buying stock with an eye to raising the reading experience in the community.

All in all, it’s a charming and enjoyable story.

Peggy Freeman is a local freelance books reviewer.

Just Posted

Red Deerians shop for exotic plants at spring plant sale

Exotic plants are popular at the Red Deer & District Garden Club’s… Continue reading

Central Albertans come together to end MS

Red Deer’s Bre Fitzpatrick has MS. The medication the 34-year-old is on… Continue reading

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

HIGH LEVEL, Alta. — Crews battling an enormous wildfire just outside the… Continue reading

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

OTTAWA — While most Canadians firmly back the Charter of Rights and… Continue reading

Red Deer stamp-collecting event a hit, local club expected to start in fall

Postage stamp-loving Red Deerians can expect to have a place to gather… Continue reading

WATCH: Cars, airplanes, motorcyles on display at Red Deer Airport

Cars, motorcycle and airplane enthusiasts united at the Red Deer Airport Sunday… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Bid to get D-Day beaches added to list of UN World Heritage Sites in limbo

OTTAWA — The beaches of Normandy, where the Allies stormed ashore to… Continue reading

Could this 20-year-old Montreal polyglot be Canada’s most multilingual student?

MONTREAL — Georges Awaad answers the phone with a polite “Hello,” but… Continue reading

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals have laid out their proposal for rules… Continue reading

Trump’s trophy day of sumo, golf and cheeseburgers in Japan

TOKYO — President Donald Trump presented a special U.S.-made trophy to the… Continue reading

Two dead, one seriously injured, following explosion in Calgary home’s garage

CALGARY — Police in Calgary say they believe a house fire where… Continue reading

Raptors fans spill onto the streets ahead of potentially historic game

Cars honked, exhilarated fans chanted and long lines formed outside bars and… Continue reading

Most Read