The Bookseller

In her debut novel, The Bookseller, Cynthia Swanson answers the age-old query "what if" with a dream. In 1962, Kitty Miller is a 30-something, single woman who co-owns a small Denver bookstore. Many women Kitty's age are married and raising families, but Kitty believes she is content and doesn't need anything more.

Then one night she dreams of an alternate version of her life, the life she would have had if one phone call had lasted just a few minutes longer. Here Kitty, known as Katharyn, is married with children and no longer works in the bookstore. The lives of Kitty and Katharyn alternate as she continues to dream of this parallel universe, and a once-content woman explores what could have been.

Many strong themes wind through Swanson's mid-century story. The role of women in society and their struggles to find a fulfilling equilibrium are superbly developed and reflected in everything from fashion to child rearing. The timeless topic of change, indicated by suburban sprawl and its effects, influences the plot, and Swanson's overarching message--to appreciate what one has, foibles and all--is enduring as well.

A mid-century modern designer, Swanson infuses the setting with strikingly authentic backdrops built from her knowledge of the period's architecture, while her meticulous research subtly illuminates language, behavior, Denver neighborhoods, even books. The Bookseller will delight bibliophiles with regular literary references.  

The astute reader will likely anticipate various plot twists, but The Bookseller isn't meant to be a surprising thriller. This is the story of a woman coming to terms with who she is; both woman and novel are beautiful. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

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