Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Collected Works of A. J. Fikry

The Collected Works of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Published by Little, Brown
13th March 2014
Hardback Edition




A.J. Fikry owns a failing bookshop. His wife has just died, in tragic circumstances. His rare and valuable first edition has been stolen. His life is a wreck.

Amelia is a book rep, with a big heart, and a lonely life.

Maya is the baby left on A.J.'s bookshop floor with a note.

What happens in the bookshop that changes the lives of these seemingly normal but extraordinary characters?

This is the story of how unexpected love can rescue you and bring you back to real life, in a world that you won't want to leave, with characters that you will come to love.


Lamb to the Slaughter
1953/ Roald Dahl

Wife kills husband with frozen leg of lamb, then disposes of the 'weapon' by feeding it to the cops.  Serviceable-enough Dahl offering, though Lambiase questioned whether a professional housewife could successfully cook a leg of lamb in the manner described - i.e., without thawing, seasoning or marinade.  Wouldn't this result in tough, unevenly cooked meat?  My business isn't cooking (or crime), but if you dispute this detail, the whole story begins to unravel.  Despite this reservation, it makes the cut because of a girl I know who loved James and the Giant Peach once upon a time.


On the ferry from Hyannis to Alice Island, Amelia Loman paints her nails yellow and, while waiting for them to dry, skims her predecessor's notes.  'Island Books, approximately $350,000 per annum in sales, the better portion of that in the summer months to folks on holiday,' Harvey Rhodes reports.  'Six hundred square feet of selling space.  No full-time employees other than owner.  Very small children's section.  Fledgling online presence.  Poor community outreach.  Inventory emphasizes the literary, which is good for us, but Fikray's tastes are very specific, and without Nic, he can't be counted on to hand-sell.  Luckily for him, Island's the only game in town.'  Amelia yawns - she's nursing a slight hangover - and wonders if one persnickety little bookstore will be worth such a long trip.  By the time her nails have hardened, her relentlessly bright-sided nature has kicked in: Of course it's worth it!  Her speciality is persnickety little bookstores and the particular breed that runs them.  Her talents include multi-tasking, selecting the right wine at dinner (and the coordinating skill, tending friends who've had too much to drink), houseplants, strays and other lost causes.

If it is possible to fall in love with a book by just reading it's first chapter, or even just the initial pages, then I fell head over heels in love with The Collected Works of A J Fikry.  I loved every character, every story line, every moment of this book.  It's a pure delight to read, and I can't imagine any book loving individual not enjoying this - and if they didn't enjoy it, I probably wouldn't like them very much if I'm being honest here.

A J runs a bookstore on a tiny island.  He is a widower following the death of his wife in a car accident.  He is also something of a recluse; books are his life.  Then one day, a valuable book is stolen from his house, and a baby is left abandoned in his shop.  Suddenly A. J's life is surrounded by people - from Maya the baby girl he is left to care for, Lambiase, the police officer with a kind heart, and most importantly Amelia, the book rep who is set to change his life.

This is going to be a brief review because I have little more to say than buy this book, savour it and recommend it to everyone you know.  Sometimes all you need from a book is a hug, and I think this one does just that.



Happy Reading


Miss Chapter x


  1. This sounds an interesting read.
    I like the way you list your read books on the side bar, that way I can easily find one that I had remembered having read a review about easily. Thank you.
    I have down loaded The Vintage Girl onto my Kindle to read on holiday in rainy Portugal next week.

    1. Thank you, I've been writing them down since about 1997 as I have a tendency to forget what I've read, and when! X


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