SHE READS MAY SELECTION - THE SHADOW YEAR
On a sultry summer’s day in 1980, five friends stumble upon an abandoned lakeside cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. For Kat and her housemates, it offers an escape, a chance to drop out for a while. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise and when an unexpected visitor appears at their door, nothing will be the same again. Three decades later, Lila arrives at the same remote cottage. With her marriage in crisis, she finds solace in renovating the tumbledown house. Little by little she wonders about the previous inhabitants. How did they manage in such isolation? And why did they leave in such a hurry, with their belongings still strewn about? Most disturbing of all, why can’t she shake the feeling that someone might be watching her?
Hannah RichellBefore she became a writer, Hannah Rihell worked for ten years in the publishing industry and was lucky enough to market books by authors such as Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, David Mitchell, Jojo Moyes, Stephenie Meyer and David Nicholls, to name just a few. She emigrated to Australia from the UK in 2005, and spent two years working for Universal Pictures in Sydney. Hannah began to write in early 2008 while she was on maternity leave, and the result was her first novel, Secrets of the Tides, which was picked for the 2012 Richard & Judy Book Club, the Waterstones Book Club and was shortlisted for the Australian Independent Bookseller Best Debut Fiction Award, ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year (2013) and ABIA Newcomer of the Year (2013). Her second novel The Shadow Year, published in 2013. Hannah became an Australian citizen in 2010 but still returns to England whenever possible, to visit family and enjoy the green grass of home.
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A storied life. It’s what we all want, long for, need to feel. That our story matters. That the story of our lives is connected to our tribe, our village, our people. That our lives matter to those around us and in the big picture.
It takes a gifted writer to be able to write about sacrifice and loss, death and divorce, meaning and mystery, and the life we live after these happenings without dragging the reader into a deep, dark abyss in the process. Enter The Storied Life of AJ Fikry because the author has managed to do just that. Gabrielle Zevin has captured these elements with a surprisingly, light touch.
AJ Fikry is the owner of a small, independent bookstore and readers travel along his path as he dispenses stories like medicine to his regular customers. After experiencing a personal tragedy, AJ is a lost soul. His only comfort is the bottom of a bottle, and not even his amazing love of story can lift him out of such a deep, darkness. But a strange and wondrous thing happens when AJ discovers a package left for him in the bookstore. Sometimes, the most unexpected, unwanted events in our lives bring us right to the place we belonged all along. And, that's exactly what AJ discovers.
The Storied Life of AJ Frisky has become a favorite selection by Indie Bookstore owners for good reason. If you own a bookstore you are going to love this book. If you have ever wanted to own a bookstore you are going to love this book. And, if life has seemed impossible lately - like you are down to your last knot and the bottom of well looks imminent - you need to read this book. Because like the story so charmingly renders, rescue often comes from the oddest of places.
The Official Summary
The Storied Life of A.J. FikryIn the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books–and booksellers–that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.
On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.
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.
And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.
Gabrielle Zevin has published six adult and young adult novels, including Elsewhere, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book, which has been translated in over twenty languages. She is the screenwriter of Conversations with Other Women (starring Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart), for which she received an Independent Spirit Award nomination. She has also written for the New York Times Book Review and NPR’s All Things Considered. She lives in Los Angeles. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is her eighth novel and was published this month by Algonquin in the US and by Little, Brown in the UK (as The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry). It will also be published in 18 other languages.
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