Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

The title: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
The author: Katarina Bivald
Publication: Sourcebooks, 2016
Got it from: The library

If you like books about small towns and reading, this one will definitely appeal to you.  Mix one part 88 Charing Cross Road,  one part Chocolat and one part The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, throw in some cornfields, and you have The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend.

Sara is from Sweden and she's never traveled outside her hometown.  Her only contact with the outside world is through books (she's a voracious reader) and her letters to Amy, an elderly woman from Broken Wheel, Iowa, who orders books from the store where Sara works.  When the story begins, Sara is out of work and arrives in Broken Wheel for a three-month visit to see Amy, only to find herself stumbling into the middle of Amy's funeral.  The townspeople insist she stay at Amy's house, and at first Sara is at loose ends, stuck in a houseful of books.  She wants to repay the kindness the townspeople have shown her, but no one will let her.  At last she strikes upon an idea: she will open a bookshop and give away Amy's books to the non-readers of Broken Wheel.

I was fully expecting this book to go all "the books transformed the people forevermore" route, but it didn't quite play out like that.  This book was cozy, and some lessons were learned, but it didn't go in all the directions I expected it to.  (Except: Amy's hunky nephew Tom.  Yeah, that went pretty much how I expected.  You can't have a good book without romance.)  There was definitely some "crazy small town shenanigans" tropes present (the author, like her character, seems to have learned everything about small-town America from the works of Fannie Flagg.)  But this book is as much a love story to other books as it is to small towns, and bibliophiles will delight in the all the references, which remain pleasingly snob-free.  Bridget Jones gets as much love here as Annie Proulx.  Although the ending petered out somewhat, most of the book was a delightful charmer.

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