The Bookseller’s Secret: About the Book
In 1942, London, Nancy Mitford is worried about more than air raids and German spies. Still recovering from a devastating loss, the once sparkling Bright Young Thing is estranged from her husband, her allowance has been cut, and she’s given up her writing career. On top of this, her five beautiful but infamous sisters continue making headlines with their controversial politics.
Eager for distraction and desperate for income, Nancy jumps at the chance to manage the Heywood Hill bookshop while the owner is away at war. Between the shop’s brisk business and the literary salons she hosts for her eccentric friends, Nancy’s life seems on the upswing. But when a mysterious French officer insists that she has a story to tell, Nancy must decide if picking up the pen again and revealing all is worth the price she might be forced to pay.
Eighty years later, Heywood Hill is abuzz with the hunt for a lost wartime manuscript written by Nancy Mitford. For one woman desperately in need of a change, the search will reveal not only a new side to Nancy, but an even more surprising link between the past and present…
Michelle Gable’s latest historical novel, The Bookseller’s Secret is a novel that toggles between real-life author, Nancy Mitford’s story to fictionalized author, Katie Cabot’s present life after her meltdown. The women have nothing in common, save for being authors, but Katie is fascinated with Mitford, and who can blame her? Nancy and her seven siblings are legendary with her sisters being particularly so. One was a Hitler sympathizer, one a fascist, one a communist, and the other a duchess.
The Bookseller’s Secret is an enjoyable read – there is no doubt about it. The story would have benefited by just being about Nancy Mitford. Her life was interesting enough without needing the juxtaposition of Katie’s seeking information about her lost autobiography. There are so many things to like about the book, though. It is such an interesting view of a fascinating woman. Gable has a gift for dialogue. She really brings Mitford’s story to life.
Katie’s story is fascinating in its own right. A writer with writer’s block seeking a change after her own failure to live up to the expectations of her first book. The way she was inspired by Mitford’s Pursuit of Love is also interesting. The challenge lies in the story arc involving a supposed autobiographical manuscript of Nancy Mitford’s, possibly hidden in the bookstore that she frequents. It is sought by both Katie and her British paramour, Simon. While it was entertaining, it ended with no real resolution.
Gable’s dedication to research is clearly demonstrated throughout the novel. She even includes an extensive section at the back of the book sharing details about how the main characters’ real lives ended up turning out. She is an excellent writer whose book deserves a read in spite of one or two minor criticisms.
Favourite Line from the Book
“It is every author’s dream to write a book that’d change everything – like winning the lottery, but with more work and crying involved.”