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

Lacombe County residential development and golf course proposed

Lincoln Ranch would include 100 homes and nine-hole golf course

UPDATED: Shots fired in Riverside Meadows

Red Deer RCMP search for more suspects

Exploring eating disorders in sports and fitness

Eating Disorders Awareness Week runs Feb. 1 to 7

Driver in fatal crash acquitted

A 19-year-old Red Deer woman was killed and another injured in June 2012 crash west of Bowden

Royal close shave: Prince William opts for dramatic buzz cut

LONDON — The hair on the heir is no longer quite so… Continue reading

WATCH: Alberta Party leadership candidates in Red Deer

Three people vying to be the leader of the Alberta Party were… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month