Monday, July 7, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

A Life of Books (Quick and Touching)

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is about a curmudgeonly bookstore owner who has slipped into depression and alcoholism after his wife died in a car accident. Without Nic, A.J. is suffering and so is business since she was the people person. At 39, he’s just looking forward to retiring, and the rare edition of an Edgar Allan Poe book is his ticket out of there, until there’s a snag.  Someone stole it. And that’s not all. In the greatest twist of fate, a baby is left in his store with a note from the mother stating that she can no longer take care of Maya and wants her to grow up being a reader.

This is a touching, quick and easy read that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. I liked the setting--on Alice Island by Martha’s Vineyard.  I was already planning my next vacation there ready to sip a Queequeg at the Pequod even if the salty, fruity, fishy concoction sounded disgusting—until I found out it’s a fictional location.  I also liked all the characters in the book from Chief Lambiase, who starts a book club for cops, to Amelia, the publisher’s book rep with unusual wardrobe tastes.

One of the greatest attractions to this book was the load of literary references. A story about a book store owner is bound to drop a book title here and there. But there were a LOT of books mentioned in this novel.  I counted over seventy titles which were seamlessly woven throughout the story with additional references to authors.  It was fun to spot the ones I’ve read, and interesting to see other popular books.  Below I’ve listed the cited books that I have read with either a quick comment or a link to my review.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick **Click Title to Read the Review**

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery **Click Title to Read the Review**

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville*Click Title to Read the Review** 

Silas Marner by George Eliot **Click Title to Read the Review**

Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy Published in 1891, this 500+ read is a classic.  Tess is a poor peasant girl sent to work at her wealthy relative’s house with consequences which steer her life in a difficult and heart-breaking direction. Good read.  

The Awakening by Kate Chopin **Click Title to Read the Review**

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain A witty short story about a man who tells a story about Daniel Webster, a pet frog that could jump higher than any other frog.  Funny.  Read it online at:

The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe  A short story in which a man visits his ailing friend, Roderick, in
a dilapidated house. While there, Roderick’s twin sister dies and they bury her in the tombs under the house. In the evening as the visitor reads aloud from a book they hear strange noises.  Roderick then reveals that he believes that they may have prematurely buried his sister Madeline. The ending is unforgettable and dramatic. Read it online at

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck This book about an Oklahoma family who decides to migrate to California during the Great Dust Bowl along with thousands of other Okies. It has a memorable and shocking ending. Good read. 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald **Click Title to Read the Review**

The Monster at the End of this Book  Although A.J. Fikry didn’t like this children’s book, my kids beg to differ. They LOVED this Little Golden Book starring lovable, furry, old Grover from Sesame Street who is afraid of a monster at the end of the book.  I now read it to my

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain – A novel about Hemingway’s first wife and their life with the “Lost Generation” in Paris in the twenties.  My book club members gave it a thumbs-up!

The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Another chilling and dramatic short story by Poe.  A paranoid man doesn’t like the blue eye of an old man. He starts watching him in his sleep and finally decides he must kill him. After he does the deed, he chops him up and stuffs him under the floorboards. But guilt gets the better of him as he starts to hear the dead man’s heartbeat under his feet.  Read it online at

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte **Click Title to Read the Review**

Happy Reading,


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