The Bookseller’s Secret
A Novel of Nancy Mitford and WWII
by Michelle Gable
Right off the top, there were several reasons why I wanted to read this novel. (Thank you NetGalley and the publisher!) I was familiar with the author, am interested in the Mitford family, love stories set in bookstores, and enjoy dual time line novels. In this case, parts of the story are set in the present. while others take place during WWII. Both stories are well told and readers are aware that they will intersect.
The protagonist in the present is Kate. She has written several novels and is experiencing writer’s block. She does not want to take the easy route of writing a sequel to her most popular title. Her difficulty in putting a story to paper is convincingly portrayed. I could not help but wonder if Ms. Gable had first hand experience with this issue.
Kate travels to London to spend time with her close friend JoJo. This leads to her working at the shop where Mitford was employed years earlier. By the way, Kate did thesis work on Mitford and is interested in her.
The WWII part of the story takes place partly at the Heywood Hill book shop. This is a real store and I enjoyed visiting there virtually. It appears charming and very individualized for its customers as I found when I looked online.
In need of funds, Nancy begins to work at HH. Has she left something behind there?
In the present day, Kate meets a man who would like to find a missing manuscript. Readers learn why. He and Kate become involved in this project while Kate is working at Heywood Hill.
Readers become aware that Nancy and Kate share some things in common. Will they each be able to write again? How does working at the bookshop impact each of them?
I found this novel a bit slow to capture me but once it did I enjoyed it very much. Historical fiction lovers may well want to take a peek at this one!