Wednesday, February 03, 2016

THE STORIED LIFE OF A J FIKRY






The Storied Life of A J Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin, Algonquin Books, 2014, 243 pp
 
 
Summary from Goodreads: A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island--from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.
 
My Review:
I read this for one of my reading groups. It is one of those novels destined to be read by reading groups composed of women. Charming, heartwarming, set in a tiny bookstore on an island in New England with quirky characters, an unusual romance, and a bit of mystery. Oh, and an abandoned child. I read it in one day.
 
The author has written several novels for both adults and young adults as well as a screenplay. She can write, she can plot. It is just that for me, while I was entertained well enough, I was constantly aware of her recycling of familiar tropes, incidents, and social issues.
  
I don't begrudge women who like to read comforting stories of how the romantic human heart can be transformed after personal tragedy. We all have tragedies and we all wish to overcome the damage. We certainly all need comforting and most of us could use more romance. 
 
So I appreciate what the author did. I am happy if her bestseller brought her some undoubtedly much needed income. But I need more depth, more grit, and more artistry in the novels I read.  

10 comments:

  1. I confess I've never been much of a consumer of such stories, but my mother (bless her!) loved them and in the last years of her life she was hardly ever without one in her hands. I think they offered her a good deal of comfort and no doubt they perform the same service for many. But, like you, I require a bit extra from my novels. That's one reason I failed at being a book club member; I just didn't like other people deciding what I should read!

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    1. My mother was the same except she livened it up with thrillers by Baldacci and others. I have some problems with having to read stuff I wouldn't have picked except for book clubs, but either I have learned to pick my book clubs or I've convinced some of the comfort people to read outside their comfort zone because last year was better. This year I have vowed to not finish book club picks I don't like.

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  2. Ouch, Judy! I bought this one after reading a very enthusiastic endorsement from one of the bloggers I follow, but that blogger and you seem to be at odds with their books opinions. I so was looking forward to reading this but now I don't know what to expect.

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    1. It is not a bad book, just not that great. Very fast read.

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  3. I had to look back at my review of this one: but what I recall is a) it was too sentimental & b) it didn't delve into books or bookstores as much I thought it would - so while it seemed to be entertaining at first, by the end I didn't feel it was great either. It felt a bit of a missed opportunity. Too bad.

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    1. Exactly. I felt a little bad dissing a book so many loved, but I guess that's the way it goes.

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  4. Thank you for your honest opinion...
    This was really a fast reading book - one day :)

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    1. A good reply! Thanks for that.

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  5. Don't you wish that Fikry's bookshop was just down the street and you could visit it any time?

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    1. Yes! But we have a few bookstores like that in Los Angeles and I do visit them often!

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