Friday, June 30, 2023

June Read: The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela Kelley


Bookshop, summer, beach...yes, I'm a sucker for it! I've read Ms. Kelley's Nantucket Restaurant series so I knew I would enjoy this summer read that takes place on Cape Cod. It's a place I've had on my travel radar for a long time. For now, I'll have to do armchair travel.

Jess is married to Parker and they're both lawyers in a thriving firm in Charleston. Their daughter Caitlin still lives with them as she bounces from job to job, unsuccessfully trying to find a career path. She's a hard worker, but never a "good fit".

All is not great in the marriage; Jess has noticed they're more friends than partners after 30 years of marriage. Before she can bring up divorce, she discovers her husband's been unfaithful with his secretary and now is expecting another child. Jess is DONE. She decides to return to her hometown of Chatham on Cape Cod for the summer to visit her mother and think about what she wants to do, and Caitlin decides to come along. It's a life changing trip for both of them. 

Jess' best friend Alison still lives in Chatham and works for a magazine that is in financial trouble. She's looking for a part-time job and finds out the local bookshop, which has been a staple in Chatham for decades, may be for sale. It's been her dream to own a bookshop and here's her chance, if she can pull the finances together. 

Along comes Jess with time on her hands, an impending divorce, and the means to invest in the bookshop and become co-owner with Alison. Soon Caitlin has taken over managing a defunct coffee shop next door to the bookshop, and the summer really kicks in! Plenty of characters are introduced and smaller plot lines run alongside the main bookshop/divorce storyline. 

All three women are going through life changes--all involving career changes as well as romantic. Although Jess and Caitlin have set October as a deadline to return to Charleston, will they stay in Chatham for good?

This is what I call a gentle novel. What makes a novel gentle (to me) is when there are no big plot twists; characters are all likable, and the story moves along at a gentle pace. Everyone is likable and the setting is a place that's perfectly perfect. No big surprises, but a satisfying read. 

I enjoyed this read, mostly because it was a relaxing one. My only slight beef was Caitlin expressing over and over how she was going to return to Charleston. It got old after a bit, especially when you, as a reader, knew there was nothing in Charleston to return to except shallow friends and temp jobs. It took her a bit too long to figure it out. 

Romantic interests for all, delicious food descriptions, and a seaside town that sounds like a dreamy place to live. And of course we can't forget the bookshop. I can't think of a more satisfying career than to own a bookshop in a seaside town. 

Rating: 4/6 for a perfectly enjoyable summertime read. Women enjoying their friendships, figuring out life, and realizing that you can go home again. And--you can love the ocean and not swim in it!

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio. 

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