I do like to pretend that I am a literary reader; but let’s face it, I am not a snob. If you put a book in front of me, and I think it looks mildly interesting, I will give it a shot. I’m not saying I like everything I read, but I like to think I’m fair. So, here’s the deal on this one. I am a sucker for an English accent, and particularly for a “confused English person living on her own in NYC” kind of story. So this one, in that respect, is a winner. Taking place in a bookstore almost unfairly stacks the deck in its favor, because really, what does someone like me like more than one actual book? Many actual books, in a store. (Did I have to answer that?) So yes, this story has a lot in its favor. The characters are appealing — some young and eager, others old and crotchety. The ones in the middle, I didn’t really care for though. I liked the concept of a dusty old bookstore being somewhat supported by a colorful crew of local homeless men, though, at times, it felt a tiny bit condescending.
In any event, the basic plotline of the story (though I hate to summarize) would have you believe that Esme, a beautiful 23 year-old English PHD candidate, here on a scholarship to Columbia, would fall for Mitchell, a 35 year-old blue-blood economist/professor, despite his complete arrogance and lack of most human traits. Oh, yeah, and she gets pregnant, by accident of course. Honestly, I wanted to love this story, but I couldn’t help think that E.L. James wrote the character outline for Mitchell. And, like Christian before him, and that Twilight guy before him, I just don’t get the attraction. Seriously, handsome does not last forever – do we not know this by now? Have you seen Bruce Jenner lately? Why do all these women want to be part of obnoxious families that feel the need to test them, to make sure they fit in? Is this normal? No, it’s not. There, I solved that one for all of us. I was also annoyed by the fact that, while many people on the richy-rich side made pointed remarks about her attempt at a money grab, not one person ever acknowledged that she may be giving up a promising future in order to raise their precious little heir. Not a whole lot of girl power here, except when a girlfriend intervenes.
In any case, I will be two-faced now and say that I did care about Esme, who is so unable to see that Mitchell is a complete ___ (wow, there are really no clean words I can think of for here, so use your imagination). But really, her blindness achieves new levels. And, of course, there is the mysterious guy, waiting in the wings; who you just know would treat her as well as she deserves. But all she cares about is how good-looking Mitchell is… So yes, she’s 23, I’ll let that go. And I will also say that the summer is ending as I write this, so I did read this grippingly, to the end, at the beach. And, to the author’s credit, she did not wrap it all up in a pretty bow and give us the perfect ending. Well, I mean, she did, but she just didn’t spell it out for us.