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The Book Lover

The Book Lover

4.2 11
by Maryann McFadden

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Ruth Hardaway has had one passion all her life: books. For thirty years she's devoted her life to her book store, trying to bury her painful past. But now the store is in jeopardy, and the past is catching up with her. Lucinda Barrett lost everything in a life-shattering betrayal. Desperate, she goes after one last dream”to be an author. Alone and broke,


Ruth Hardaway has had one passion all her life: books. For thirty years she's devoted her life to her book store, trying to bury her painful past. But now the store is in jeopardy, and the past is catching up with her. Lucinda Barrett lost everything in a life-shattering betrayal. Desperate, she goes after one last dream”to be an author. Alone and broke, she embarks on a journey, eventually landing on Ruth's doorstep. Ruth takes Lucy under her wing, championing her book and even offering her refuge at a nearby lake cabin. In return, she wants Lucy to keep an eye on her son, Colin, who's recovering from a war injury. As the two women grow closer and begin to face the past, neither has any idea that their toughest decisions lie ahead”or that their friendship is about to fall apart because of a little white lie.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
McFadden's newest novel (after So Happy Together) is the subtly complex tale of an aspiring author, a struggling bookseller, an Iraq War veteran, and the pursuit of a dream that brings them all together. Lucy Barrett has long desired to see her book in the hands of readers, but big publishers won't pay her any mind. So Lucy self-publishes A Quiet Wanting and gets the attention of Ruth Hardaway, owner of The Book Lover bookstore. Shortly after Ruth proposes to host a signing for Lucy, Lucy discovers that her husband, a longtime gambler, is headed to jail for theft, and to top it all off, he wants a divorce. Now thoroughly untethered from her old life, Lucy leaves Florida and drives to New Jersey, where Ruth has offered Lucy the use of an unused cabin, but under one condition: Lucy must help look after Ruth's son, Colin, a crippled vet. Lucy and Colin soon warm to each other, but Ruth, struggling under the stress of keeping the bookstore afloat, begins to view Lucy's imposition on her life to be the manipulations of a woman desperate for recognition. As they all try to navigate their newfound affections and fears, each character must assess their hopes and aspirations in light of present conditions. Along the way, McFadden skirts the edge of clichéd territory, but in the end, a refusal to give her characters easy outs makes this a believable story of self-discovery. (May)
From the Publisher

“Oh, what a feast for book lovers!  McFadden mines bookstores, writers’ lives, publishing, and the rocky terrain of the human heart with equal grace and aplomb. The Book Lover is wise, knowing, and totally wonderful.” Caroline Leavitt, NY Times Bestselling Author of Pictures of You

“Maryann McFadden takes you into the hearts and souls of two ordinary women, a writer and a bookseller, who find the courage to pursue their dreams, and the men they love. The Book Lover is unforgettable." Dorothea Benton Frank, New York Times Bestselling Author

"Heartfelt and richly woven, Maryann McFadden's latest tells the story of love lost - and found again in an unexpected place. It's a valentine to book lovers."  Sarah Pekkanen, Author of These Girls

The Book Lover is the name of a charming book shop which acts as one of the main characters in this story of broken marriages, secrets, friendships and little white lies. The well developed characters and subject will make this a sure selection for book clubs.” Elizabeth Merritt, Titcomb’s Books

“The Book Lover takes you into the heart and soul of the book world, with characters you will come to love. The most honest story about the world of books I've read yet.” Rob Dougherty, Clinton Book Shop 


“A compelling story of love, loss and survival.”  Tom Warner, Litchfield Books


“Book lovers everywhere will love this story!”  Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop


“I’ve always found some character or situation in Maryann McFadden’s books that reminds me of me and mine—this time she even nails my life as a bookseller!”  Betsy Rider, Otto’s Books

Hopeful author Lucinda Barrett is sliding into depression after receiving multiple rejection letters from publishers when she decides to self-publish and promote her novel. Upon discovering devastating news about her husband’s secret life, she escapes on a book tour. Reeling and confused, Lucy shows up at an author signing a week early and has a minor breakdown in a small New Jersey bookstore. Owner Ruth Hardaway recognizes Lucy’s stricken look as one she herself had years ago. Ruth offers Lucy the use of her lakeside cabin where she can recuperate. Lucy’s friendship with Ruth grows as does her attraction for Ruth’s Iraq war veteran son, Colin.

Verdict McFadden (The Richest Season; So Happy Together) tells an absorbing tale of two women struggling to overcome their fears of failure and achieve more fulfilling lives. Avid readers will identify with the love of books that permeates the novel. Through her characters, McFadden deftly personifies the current challenges of authors and independent booksellers.

—Joy Gunn, Henderson Libs., NVLibrary Journal

With a title like The Book Lover, of course it was a perfect fit as a recommendation for the Get Caught Reading campaign. But beyond the title, it's the heartfelt story praised by bestselling authors Caroline Leavitt and Sarah Pekkanen.

The Book Lover is the story of Lucinda "Lucy" Barrett whose life is pulled out from under her when her husband betrays her. Suddenly, she's left alone with nothing more than her dream of becoming an author. Bound and determined not to let her husband take everything from her, she heads out to make her dreams of becoming published a reality. She vows to get her book into every bookstore she can, and it's in this search that she finds The Book Lover — a store that will change everything. The owner, Ruth, takes Lucy under her wing, and the two forge a bond as Lucy tries to forget her painful memories. Lucy leans on Ruth, and Ruth asks a favor in return — could Lucy look out for her son, Colin, who's recovering from an injury in the Iraq war. But soon the bond between these women will be tested and could fall apart — all because of a little white lie.--Sheknows.com

Maryann McFadden, local author and adjunct faculty member at Warren County Community College, is garnering critical acclaim with this month’s nationwide debut of her third novel, The Book Lover. With The Book Lover selected as an Indie Next Pick by the American Booksellers Association, McFadden has embarked on a regional book tour where fans can interact with the author at some of the east coast’s most popular book stores, expos, and libraries.

“It’s an absolute joy having Maryann as a faculty member here at WCCC,” said Dr. Will Austin, president of Warren County Community College. “She’s a valuable asset at the college for students and faculty members alike, and we’re all very excited about the highly successful release of her third novel.”For this latest book, McFadden has been able to channel her wealth of knowledge about the unknown side of the publishing and bookselling industry into a compelling story. “Because I was originally self-published before I got my deal with Hyperion Books, I learned both sides of the fence, writing and bookselling,” said McFadden.The Book Lover follows the journeys of two women, a struggling bookseller and an unknown novelist, and the risks they take to follow their dreams, both professionally and personally.One New Jersey bookseller who read the book called it "the most honest story about the world of books I've read.”Combining suspense, intrigue, secrets, and a bit of love,The Book Lover is a vivid revelation of a world so many readers enjoy the fruits of, but so few truly understand from an inside perspective. It seems to have made The Book Lover resonate deeply with the audience that is just beginning to discover it. “I learned that most readers have no idea of the magical, often perilous, journey a book takes from the moment it begins in a writer's mind until it finally ends up on a bookstore's shelf, and then in their hands,” said McFadden. “That's the story I wanted to tell in The Book Lover. “ --- Warren Reporter, NJ.COM


As the name implies, this is truly a novel for people who love books … and who care about others who also love books. A novelist myself, I was able to identify immediately and passionately with the story of Lucy, a young writer trying to get her novel published; and it would be difficult for any reader to not like Ruth, owner of a struggling—not to mention haunted—bookshop.
Lucy has given up on traditional publishing and has opted to go the subsidy route—she’s paid to have a subsidy press issue her book in the print-on-demand format. This comes with a lot of distribution problems; bookstores normally are able to return to the publisher books that haven’t sold, but the print-on-demand model doesn’t offer returns, so bookshops generally don’t want to stock these books. But Ruth, owner of The Book Lover, takes an interest in Lucy’s work and goes far beyond merely stocking the book: she promotes both it and its author.
The two women’s lives become increasingly interwoven. Both are struggling with relationships: Lucy’s husband has betrayed her, and Ruth has a complicated relationship with a man in prison (where she started a book program) and a son who lost the use of his legs during the American occupation of Iraq. Both are struggling, too, to make a living in the increasingly precarious world of books.
And it is, perhaps, the books that are really the main protagonists in McFadden’s story. Ruth’s love of books comes off the page and pulls the reader in, and anyone who has ever loved reading, loved the feel and smell and excitement of the unknown offered by books, will appreciate that.
The characters are all real. Not all of them are likeable; Lucy is the stereotypically self-absorbed young novelist, and Colin the damaged-by-PTSD-and-anger war veteran; but they both grow and change as the novel prods them gently into paying attention to others. Ruth, on the other hand, is in her sixties (and how often do we see older women as protagonists?) and a love from the first moment the reader encounters her.
It’s Lucy’s self-aggrandizement and “little white lies” that eventually drive a barrier between the two women, but the reader is never terribly concerned that things won’t right themselves. The gentle tone of the entire novel leads one to believe that things will work out … and, of course, they do.
Some of it was disappointing. The parallel McFadden draws between Colin’s rehabilitation and that of the birds being rescued is a little too obvious; and the ending a little too sweet. Still, it’s a sweet story with a fascinating backdrop. Booksense has selected The Book Lover as an Indie Next Pick, and it will make for great beach reading this summer.--Jeannette de Beauvoir, Provincetown Magazine, May 19, 2012





If you love relationship novels that keep you turning the pages, and if you're curious about writers and booksellers, look no further for your next summer read than The Book Lover: A Novel. The first and last stages of a book's life cycle are embodied in the two main characters of this novel by Maryann McFadden (author of The Richest Season and So Happy Together). The younger character, 39-year-old Lucy Barrett, is a writer. The older character, 64-year-old Ruth Hardaway, is an independent (nonchain) bookseller.
The two characters meet because Ruth has arranged for Lucy to do a signing at her bookstore. Both women have high hopes for the success of Lucy's book. As the story unfolds, the reader learns what writers and booksellers worry about as they jump through their particular hoops. For readers who are not familiar with the demands of the book world, the story will open their eyes to the beginning and end of the process (not the publishing part itself).
The book world, however, is not the real world, and the narrative tension comes from the personal lives of Lucy and Ruth as they come to grips with choices they have made and choices they need to make. Both Lucy and Ruth have been keeping secrets from their loved ones.
Lucy has not only written but self-published a book and has yet to tell her husband, David, about it. Ruth has been developing a friendship with Thomas, a convicted felon, but has kept her feelings from him and everyone else. --Meredith Ann Rutter, Seattle Pi, May 31, 2012




I loved The Book Lover by Maryann McFadden! Not only did this book appeal to me because of all the references to books and the love of books but because each and every character worked their way right into my heart and stayed there. Even now that I’m finished the book I’m still thinking of the characters and wishing I was still a part of their lives within the pages of this book. The Book Lover not only takes us into the world of books, authors, and publishers but also into the very hearts and souls of people who live, love, and breathe books.
Lucy, thirty-nine years old and a writer, has been sending her novel out to publishers for ages hoping that one will take her on. She really believes in her novel and the few people that have read it have loved it. However after more rejections than she cares to count Lucy is really getting down over it all. This novel has been the one thing that has brought her out of a dark place and she knows it’s good – why can’t the publishers see that and take a chance on her? Well she’s not going to wait it out anymore so she takes matters into her own hands and self-publishes her novel. At first she’s not completely honest about it because people think that if you can’t get a publishing house to represent you then your novel can’t possibly be good but soon enough she knows she can’t hide the fact that she published it on her own. She sends out some copies to some smaller bookstores and hopes for the best. Lucky for her the best happens and Ruth, a bookseller in New York, asks her if she’d like to do a signing at her store The Book Lover. Of course Lucy answers with a resounding yes! When Lucy is hit with a major betrayal by her husband the trip to Ruth’s can’t come at a better time. What she doesn’t realize at the time is that her life is going to change in more ways than one. Is success on the horizon? Is love still out there for her? Can her dreams still come true?
Ruth at sixty-five years old has been running her book store The Book Lover for almost thirty years and she knows how lucky she is to be doing what she loves everyday. Yet the bookstore hasn’t been doing well financially. People are going to the bigger stores and more and more are buying ebooks and online. What ever happened to the love of holding a real book in your hands – Ruth just doesn’t get it. What she does get though is that Lucy’s book is fantastic and she’s anxious to help her get the word out on it. Their first meeting doesn’t go quite as planned but the two women quickly bond and become friends. Ruth has been through her own hardships in life and instead of letting love into her life she has focused all that energy on books. However she has met a man who she not only finds attractive but he shares her love of books as well. There is only one problem and it’s a big one – she’s pretty sure her family will never approve of him. Does she go with her heart and bring him into her life or lose out on the love she feels may be there?
There is so much more to this story but I don’t want to say more for fear of giving away the whole story and this novel is so worth reading that I’d rather you read it on your own. I will say though that I loved Lucy and Ruth. They were both such real women. Their lives weren’t perfect and neither were they. Lucy was the type of person who didn’t see what was going on around her or her marriage and she tended to put herself before anything else even though she didn’t do it consciously, she still did it. Ruth was a control freak. She felt the need to have her hand in everything and her biggest lesson was learning to let others help her. These women though were the type of characters who worm their way into your heart. I truly cared about them and wanted to see them happy. What I really loved as well was Ruth, being in her middle sixties, still being a vibrant and lively woman who had a second chance at life and love and was willing to put it all out there.
The Book Lover is about books of course but so much more as well. It’s about life, love, and second chances! It comes highly recommended by yours truly! --Peeking Between the Pages




Faced with an impending divorce to her money-laundering husband and the loss of several pregnancies and a days-old infant, Lucinda (Lucy) Barrett hopes that the publication of her novel will help her move forward. When nobody will publish her, she decides to do the unthinkable in the publishing world: she self-publishes. Armed with copies of her book, she takes a road trip toward her mother’s home in Pennsylvania to promote her book along the way. She stops at a cute book store called the Book Lover in Warwick, New Jersey, and has a breakdown in the ladies’ room. The owner, Ruth, befriends her and offers her cabin in the woods for Lucy to collect herself for a few days. Desperate to seclude herself, Lucy agrees, unaware that Ruth’s son has a cabin next door to Ruth’s. She and Colin, who is in a wheelchair after a debilitating military injury, become friends, and then more. Meanwhile, Lucy helps Ruth come to terms with the fact that she has fallen in love with an ex-convict who is out on parole.
Reading this synopsis, one may think this is a crazy, far-fetched story, but in truth, it makes sense once the book has been read. The characters in the small town of Warwick are believable and realistic; they have enough layers that they could easily start a series of books highlighting each one. McFadden weaves the story so well that each character interacts with another, sometimes for the better, and sometimes in not-so-pleasant ways. The focus of the story is healing, and it is interesting to see that even after a great deal of adversity, people manage to heal and move forward. This book has an uplifting, positive message that through faith in God and the willingness to deal with negative situations, we can become better people.
Due to mature themes and some profanity, this book is not suitable for young readers. -- Jen Roman, Fiction Addict



Product Details

Three Women Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Maryann McFadden's first two novels, The Richest Season and So Happy Together, were honored as "Indie Next Picks," chosen by an association of independent booksellers from across the country. She has worked as a freelance journalist, realtor, and photographer and currently teaches at a local community college, coaches writers, and, of course, writes novels. One day a week she also babysits her four young granddaughters while her own daughter teaches writingAfter receiving a degree in English from Rutgers University, she stayed at home raising her children and worked for nearly 10 years as a freelance writer contributing to a variety of newspapers and health magazines like Working Woman and Women's Sports and Fitness. Needing a change, she put her writing aside and immersed herself in business and pursued a career in real estate for the next 15 years. She loved the contact with people that her work provided and her clients' stories and dreams became the grist for her later writing career. So she returned to graduate school and received a Master's Degree in Literature with a Concentration in Writing.The story behind the publication of her first novel, The Richest Season, is one that will resonate with so many first-time novelists and spans many years of overcoming agent and publisher rejections, refusing to accept failure, coming very close to giving up, then self-publishing the book, orchestrating her own book launch, pounding the pavement to convince independent booksellers to stock a self-published book on their shelves, conducting countless book signings and talks, addressing 40 book clubs in 10 states, and exhausting every marketing possibility for her book. She did not quit. And finally, overnight success: a New York agent loved her book and sold it at auction to Hyperion. Maryann received a two-book hardcover deal; Random House in Germany followed with German rights, and Mondadori made a deal for Italy. When a writer's blog referred to her good luck as "winning the literary lottery," Maryann responded, "I had to laugh. Because it implied that getting published was as simple as buying a ticket and waiting for a number to be drawn. Hah! If only it were that easy. My ordeal in trying to get my novel taken spanned 6 years in total."Maryann is proud of her two children, Patrick and Marisa, and her four granddaughters, Alice, Lily, Julia, and Phoebe. She lives in Northwest New Jersey where she is working on her fourth novel.

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Book Lover 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved every word. Waiting for the next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An insiders look to a writers world and struggles getting published weaved with heartwarming stories of two womens love, loss, and finding ones true calling. Amazing- I couldnt put it down-read in one sitting!
FrancescaFB More than 1 year ago
THE BOOK LOVER is charming and appealing to every bibliophile or perpetual reader such as me. There are some great references to traditional and classic books mentioned throughout the story that can be found in bookstores or borrowed from the library. It is a delightful story of unconditional love of family, loss, and resiliency. It is at times heartbreaking, but just as hopeful. It is highly recommended for those who love books in print, and the bookstores and libraries that readers perpetually visit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much. First book read by this author, l plan to look for more books by her.
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BookLoverAO More than 1 year ago
In a word, compelling. Once I started, I just wanted to be left alone to read. Characters are well developed, touching, real lives. Thought provoking plot -- what is really worth pursuing in life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book! I had previous read Mary Ann McFadden's prior two books over the past years "Richest Season" and "So Happy Together" , which I thoroughly enjoyed. "The Book Lover" was brilliant and belongs on the best seller list! Being an avid reader, I could not put this book down! Her honesty and challenges of being a writer and becoming published was portrayed wonderfully (hats off to MaryAnn), and as a bonus the other correlations and poignant stories between the characters so beautifully portrayed (Ruth/Thomas - the bookstore owner, woman, mother-history and struggles; Lucy's past and present; Colin and the injured birds/healing), the lovely characters you fall in love with at the book store, and Ruth taking Hannah under her wing - did not want the book to end (loved the ending). I would love to see a series or movie with Lucy/Thomas, Colin/Lucy, and a new man possibly for Hannah, and the continuation of Megan and her inspirations with the book store and the quaint town. McFadden is an excellent writer and storyteller and she was able to take so many elements and tie them together for a powerful, healing, and uplifting story! In addition, the setting in the quaint small downtown village, woods, nature, cabins, and coast..(my favorite places). Oh, and the St Augustine, FL setting, as well which I lived and worked covering this area previously, so could relate with the surroundings. Wow, this book covered all my passions and McFadden put it together and packaged it beautifully - you do not get any better than this! Highly Recommend!! Cannot wait for her next masterpiece! You will want to read her previous works as well. Excellent!"
Kate_Sullivan More than 1 year ago
After reading SO HAPPY TOGETHER, I couldn't wait to read THE BOOK LOVER. I can't say that I could relate this book to my life as well as I could SO HAPPY TOGETHER, but I enjoyed the book anyway. I can relate to loving books and small independant book shops, and it was fun getting a glimpse inside the publishing world. I like your style Maryann McFadden. Keep them coming, please.
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