The Book Lover – Maryann McFadden

The Book Lover – Maryann McFadden
Three Women Press/2012
  By Sheri de Grom

The Book Lover is Maryann McFadden’s third novel. Each read penned by McFadden is richer than the last.

I particularly love the author’s development of women of a certain age. She gives them full lives, the ability to make complex decisions for themselves, and success in leading a satisfying life—after the character arc has been completed, of course

The Book Lover provides the reader an instant love affair with an independently owned bookstore—a bookstore where everyone knows your name and provides suggestions for your reading pleasure if you can’t decide which book to choose. It’s also a bookstore where every employee is also a reader.

Remember the days of going into a bookstore and having a bookseller recommend a book that you absolutely must read and the staffer could actually give you a brief synopsis of what the book was about? The employee didn’t have to read the back cover. They knew the book.

The owner of McFadden’s bookstore is sixty-four year old Ruth Hardaway. A widow, she’s devoted the last thirty years of her life to the store.

Thirty-nine year old, Lucinda Barrett’s life falls apart. Her husband is sent to prison.

Lucinda’s one remaining dream is to become a published author. Her manuscript is rejected time and time again by agents and publishers alike. The rejection letters stack up. In anguish and frustration Lucinda (Lucy) self-publishes her novel.

Now what? She can’t leave the novels stacked in her dining room. Her designer home is being sold due to her husbands follies.

Lucy decides to set up her own book tour. She lives in Florida and, out of the fifty phone calls she makes, she receives one solid commitment from a book store owner who’s a thousand miles away.

To make the best out of what could turn out to be another costly mistake, Lucy decides to introduce the book herself to every bookstore she comes across on her drive north.

She learns on the first day of her drive that chain bookstores don’t welcome self-published books. Time and time again, Lucy is told no before she gets beyond her introductory sentence.

Maryann McFadden knows the world of writing, self-publishing, marketing, and writing. She subtly weaves into her story the intricacies of the business without weighing down the relationship of her characters.

A common thread for all the characters–many more than just Ruth and Lucy—is a willingness to move out of a place in their lives that they don’t like and becoming empowered to move forward.

We meet Ruth’s son, Colin. He’s an Iraq veteran and a paraplegic. He lives in a cabin at a nearby lake and volunteers at a wild bird sanctuary.

Ruth barely keeps the bookstore alive financially. She welcomes an opportunity to sell books at a prison that’s one-hundred miles away. Over time she meets Thomas, a convicted felon, and they carry on conversations about books and eventually begin writing each other. Ruth finds herself looking forward to the trips to the prison more than she thinks she should.

She keeps Thomas a secret from everyone, including her staff and children. What will she do when he’s released for time served?

Lucy doesn’t have plans after her book signing at Ruth’s store. She and Ruth are now friends and confidants. Ruth offers Lucy the use of her empty cabin at the lake. Ruth convinces Lucy she’d be doing her a favor. She wouldn’t worry about her son as much because the cabins are next door to each other.

White lies between Ruth and Lucy nearly end their relationship and the world crumbles around them. Lives become doomed. Losses are nightmarish. Characters believe their lives will never be the same.

I found myself telling any number of characters, “Come on get a grip!”

If you haven’t read a novel by Maryann McFadden, now is the time to do so. The Book Lover is a 2012 Indie Next Pick. I recommend The Book Lover for book clubs and individuals alike. You can’t go wrong.

You may learn more than you ever wanted to know about promoting an Indie Novel and owning an independent bookstore. I loved every morsel.

About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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19 Responses to The Book Lover – Maryann McFadden

  1. I do hope you’ll enjoy the read as much as I did. Having worked both sides of the fence myself, Maryann’s story is spot on. Her characters are so real. They were easy to identify with and I didn’t want the read to end.

  2. What a great review! I am going to get this book immediately. Sounds like it will be a fun read. We’ve got two indie bookstores in town and I hope they’ll continue to sell enough books to stay in business. I try to buy as many books from them as I can. Thanks for introducing me to this book, Sheri!

  3. Correction – The Book Lover by Maryann McFadden is the debut novel of Three Women Press. The Book Lover is not self-published as I reported before and Maryann is not a partner in Three Women Press. I apologize for this error. The Book Lover is an Indie Next Pick for 2012 and continues to remain high on my list, not only for the tremendous story but for the terrific information Maryann McFadden shares with the reader.

  4. Two of the few remaining independent bookstores closed their doors in Ottawa, Ontario this past year. One had been around “forever”. I too feel very nostalgic about the loss of these stores. In Quebec there are many independent bookstores – two just 15 minutes away from our rural retreat (aka home) and two more just 30 minutes away in the area resort town. They are gems and flourish with the strong French-language publishing environment in Quebec and France.

    • I morn the loss of our many independent stores and stayed away from internet buying until just this year. However, when the closest B&N told me they prefered not to stock new authors (until they were established) that comment was enough to send me flying to the internet. I still spend far too much at the brick and mortar store and refuse to buy books at stores that are not book stores – but I also refuse to allow B&N to bully me when it comes to what I can buy. If I’m going to have to order something, I might as well order it from Amazon and pay a lower price.

  5. On my Kindle!! Really looking forward to reading the book soon. Since I’m just starting on my journey as an Indie author, I’ll consider this reading for research AND pleasure… what a great combination!!

    • Maryann McFadden is a terrific resource person. She, along with two other women started Three Women Press, if I remember everything correctly. Previously she’d been published by Hyperion. The Book Lover is an honest look at the publishing world and most editors were uncomfortable with it, per Maryann. They wanted to tone it down. Thus, it appears a new chapter in her life is beginning and I enjoyed the honesty the novel portrayed.

  6. Sheri … on top of being what sounds like a great read … Maryanni McFadden also gives readers a “how to” on indie pubishing and indie book stores. Ah yes, I remember when going to the Flagship of B&N in Manhattan, one could lounge, sit on their aged hardwood floors and talk books all day with their great staff … it was the next best thing to the librarian who always had a suggestion and who helped me get through college !! Research might seem easier on the net, but it was more fun at small book stores and libraries. Thanks for another stellar review 🙂

    • Florence – I enjoyed Maryann’s novel as I have her first two. She tells terrific stories of ‘women of a certain age’ and does it well. ‘The Book Lover’ definitely pulled me in due to the subject matter and I was fascinated how the story moved forward and wasn’t bogged down by the information she willingly shared about her own journey within the indi world of book publishing.

  7. It’s a good read and an informative one at the same time. I miss the independent bookstores. We had several of them where we lived on the central coast of California but the last time we were there they were gone. We have one remaining where we live now and the affluent area where it’s located may keep it healthy.

  8. This made me so nostalgic… There was a small bookstore like that for me in Chicago. Sounds like a great read!

  9. Edith – I ordered my copy by way of Amazon. Is there shipping way too expensive when it comes to getting books to you? I know the book is available on Kindle if you have an e-reader. I pay a flat fee once a year to Amazon and all shipping for the remainder of the year is free. You might want to check into that program. It more than pays for itself for me. The shipping is good, no matter if I’m ordering books or other merchandise.

  10. Edith says:

    Oooh Sheri this sounds exactly like the kind of book I love! My biggest problem is that I live in Ireland and it can be difficult to get hold of copies of independent publishers titles. But I shall try!!!

  11. Thanks, Jeanne. It’s a terrific read and when traditional publishing wanted the book toned down, Maryann decided to publish the book herself. Her previous two books were published by commercial publishers. I thought this was an interesting twist.

  12. I may just start on this one! Your descriptions make the reader hungry for the whole “roast.” 🙂

  13. Books, a bookstore, and a writer – oh my! I want to read this one, Sheri. Nice review.

  14. Oh, this is a good one, Sheri. Books, a bookstore, a writer – oh my! Thank you for a great review. I’d like to read this one.

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