A Novel Bookstoreby Laurence Cosse, Alison Anderson (Translator)
A devotee of Stendhal who has shunned the company of his fellow human beings to live on the outskirts of a tiny village in Savoy is kidnapped and left for dead along a forest road. A middle-aged mother who spends much of her time shuttling her numerous offspring along twisting mountain roads loses control of her car and ends up injured but alive in a gorge. Meanwhile, an elderly man of unbreakable habits is taunted and threatened by two unknown men while on his morning walk along the cliffs of Brittany. Mystery abounds but A Novel Bookstore is no everyday mystery. The victims here are not members of the underworld, toughs or thugs, but mild, meek and apparently ordinary people. In the eyes of their aggressors, they are guilty of only one crime: expressing their tastes in literature.
Indeed, all three victims are members of The Good Novel's secret selection committee. Tucked away in a corner of Paris, The Good Novel bookstore offers its clientele literary masterpieces, both contemporary and classic, selected by a top-secret committee of authors. The store has proven an instant success, but nobody could have imagined that success would unleash a tide of hatred. Now, there are those who will stop at nothing to destroy The Good Novel. One by one, the pieces of this puzzle fall ominously into place, as it becomes clear to the store's owners, Ivan and Francesca, that their dreams of an ideal place for books may be shattered by envy and violence.
Elegantly mixing the mystery and literary fiction genres, Laurence Cossé has written an enthralling fable for lovers of good books and a heartfelt tribute to fine bookselling.
"Marvelous and stimulating."
—The San Francisco Chronicle
"A hymn to fine literature."
"A Novel Bookstore is...a declaration of love for the art of the novel and its effects on human history."
"Cossé poignantly depicts characters who have turned to literature for solace against the pain in their lives."
"An Agatha Christie-style mystery bolstered by a love story worthy of Madame de la Fayette...Laurence Cossé excels in deconstructing the world of books."
"A deeply satisfying manifesto of book love and a sharp indictment of those who would use such love for their own evil purposes."
—The Huffington Post
"Eminently readable, it is a love letter to the novel...and a profound exploration of human nature."
When French author Cossé(A Corner of the Veil, 1999, etc.) pairs unlikely business partners in the opening of a unique Parisian bookstore, The Good Novel, that will sell only the best fiction, their venture succeeds and draws vehement criticism—and worse.
The selection process at The Good Novel, owned and backed by the lovely Aldo-Valbella Francesca and run by Ivan Georg, is rigorous. Members of a secret committee of writers and bibliophiles compile novels that they consider superior to the usual bestseller-list folderol. Their bookstore is a success. But almost immediately detractors publish diatribes accusing The Good Novel's proprietors and denizens of snobbery. Worse, someone is pasting these attacks up around town. When attempts are made against the lives of several members of the selection committee, Ivan and Francesca turn to the law in the person of a publishing-industry veteran turned cop, Gonzague Heffner, to determine how it is that seemingly coordinated thugs have learned the meticulously concealed identities of committee members. Is there a centralized plot by publishing interests to overthrow the upstart store, or are these the isolated jabs of irate inferior writers who take issue with the store's exclusive policies? As the investigation unfolds, rival bookstores open, initially strong sales falter, and it becomes clear that the attacks are a reaction to the very concept of quality in literature. This mystery is however incidental to larger themes of what superlative work in the literary sphere constitutes. Not without its surprises,the book doesn't quite live up to the high literary standards that its characters apply. While the central mystery stalls and dissipates without satisfactory resolution, the central conceit—what place is there for great and often difficult literature in a mercenary world—is manifest in the plight of the store and the disruptive influence it has on critics and booksellers the world over. The book's real strength is its romances—of both the bookish and human varieties. In attention to matters of the heart the story is redeemed, delivering a touché where its original thrust misses the mark.
A literary idyll preselected for bookworms and bibliophiles.
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.50(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Meet the Author
Born in 1950 in Boulogne-Billancourt, Laurence Cossé is a critic, novelist, playwright and journalist. She has reported for Radio France and the newspaper Le Quotidien de Paris and interviewed such luminaries as Andrei Tarkovsky and Jorge Luis Borges. Cossé is the author of the satirical thriller, The Corner of the Veil (Scribner), and several historical novels including the bestselling Prime Minister's Woman. A Novel Bookstore is her ninth novel. She lives in France.
Alison Anderson's translations for Europa Editions include novels by Sélim Nassib, Amélie Nothomb, and Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. She is the translator of The Elegance of the Hedgehog (Europa, 2008) and The Life of the Elves (Europa, 2016) by Muriel Barbery.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
I assume this is meant to be a satire, and as such it is funny in parts. The problem is, for a book that is satirizing good literature, it's not well written. Perhaps some of the problem lies with the translation, but the plot is heavy-handed and clumsy, which certainly is not the translator's responsibility.
If you can get past the long sentences, and I do mean long (sentence on page 119 is 109 words long with 9 commas) and the extremely weird writing in some places, the book isn't all that bad. It is a good story and the characters are interesting enough but the writing presents a hurdle that is tough to overcome. I think the author took herself too seriously and tried to be TOO LITERARY. I almost put this book down several times but kept reading because I hate to give up on any book. I bought it because it was one of the books recommended by B&N.
Smart and compelling, I fell in love with Ivan and Francesca before I knew it. It ranks right up there with The Elegance of A Hedgehog. This book is not for every reader . . . but it is well written and mysterious, so one must be a patient reader!