I learned about author Susan Wiggs on one of my favorite podcasts, The Literary Life. It's hosted by Mitchell Kaplan, the owner of Books & Books in Miami, FL, which is one of my favorite independent bookstores. Even if you don't live in Miami, you can support them by purchasing online. I just bought four books from them on Cyber Monday.
Wiggs has written more than 50 books (!) and her latest is called The Lost and Found Bookshop. It's the story of Natalie Harper, a woman who loses her boyfriend and her mother in a plane crash, turning her life upside down in an instant.
In the wake of her mother's death, Natalie quits her high profile job in wine country and returns home to San Francisco to care for her grandfather and to run her mother's most treasured possession, a bookstore.
When reminiscing about her mother's love of books (and recommending them), Natalie says, "As always, her was right. There was a book for everything. Somewhere in the vast Library of the Universe, as Natalie thought of it, her mom could find a book that embodied exactly the things Natalie was worrying about. And sure enough, Maya Running, about a girl from India whose family didn't fit in, did make her feel better. Like she wasn't the only kid in the world with a different kind of family. You're never alone when you're reading a book, Mom liked to say."
On page 74, she continues, " . . . she had a superpower . . . she had the ability to see a person for the first time and almost instantly know what book to recommend. She was really smart and had also read every book ever written, or so it seemed to Natalie. She could talk to high school kids about Ivanhoe and Silas Marner. She ran a mystery discussion group. She could tell people the exact day the new Mary Higgins Clark novel would come out. She knew which kids would only ever read Goosebumps books, no matter what, and she knew which kids would try something else, like Edward Eager or Philip Pullman. Sometimes people didn't know anything abut the book they were searching for except, 'It's blue with gold page edges' and her mom would somehow figure it out."
As Natalie looks to step into her mother's footsteps, she discovers the building is crumbling and the shop is in deep financial debt. As she works on a plan to save the shop, she starts by hiring a contractor. The man who arrives is named Peach and he takes an immediate liking to Natalie.
A love triangle is formed when Natalie secures a famous author to speak at the shop, Trevor Dashwood. Trevor wines and dines Natalie, hoping to sweep her off her feet.
Towards the end of the book, when Natalie asks Peach to accompany her to gala, it's clear where her heart really lies. She gushes, "In walked a vision of elegance that might have just stepped off the pages of a Jane Austen novel. She didn't even bother trying not to stare. Peach Gallagher had arrived. And all her expectations exploded. Not only did he appear to understand the meaning of black tie, he walked into the reception room as if he had invented the look - a perfectly fitted tuxedo jacket and matching trousers, a shirt with studs and cuff links, an expertly tied bow tie, and black laced oxfords. His long hair managed to make the attire seem more formal. He was every crush she'd ever had from junior high onward. Every album cover she'd stared at, listening to torch songs until she cried. Every mooned-over heartthrob she could never have."
Though this book was predictable, it was just what I needed during these pandemic times. It was heartwarming and sweet, and brought me right back to the streets of San Francisco, where I used to spend so much time for work.
After I finished reading this, I devoured The Comeback by Ella Berman. Excited to share that review with you!