The Bookseller: A Novel (Paperback)
March 2015 Indie Next List
“In 1962, 38-year-old Kitty Miller lives unconventionally. She's an unmarried working woman who is running a bookstore with her best friend. But at night, in her dreams, it's a different story. There, Kitty (now Kathryn) explores the path not taken. She's the married mother of three. It's the life that might have been, and the novel explores both Kitty's waking and dream lives in alternating chapters. Swanson's enjoyable debut really gets interesting when the lines between waking and dreaming, fantasy and reality, begin to blur.”
— Susan Tunis, Bookshop West Portal, San Francisco, CA
A provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel reminiscent of Sliding Doors, The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams.
Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . .
Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped.
Then the dreams begin.
Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It’s everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps.
Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn?
As the lines between her worlds begin to blur, Kitty must figure out what is real and what is imagined. And how do we know where that boundary lies in our own lives?
About the Author
Cynthia Swanson is a writer and designer. She has published short fiction in 13th Moon, Kalliope, Sojourner, and other periodicals; her story in 13th Moon was a Pushcart Prize nominee. The Bookseller, her first novel, was an Indie Next pick and is being translated into eleven languages.
“Cynthia Swanson’s novel will make you think about the paths you could have taken—but even more so, what you can learn from them to make your reality richer.”
— Redbook Magazine
“What if? These words tantalize and haunt us. In The Bookseller, writing with a sharp-tinged empathic pen, Cynthia Swanson takes us on a startling journey where a woman is thrust into the alternative world that might have been, had she made different choices.”
— Randy Susan Meyers, author of Accidents of Marriage
“Cynthia Swanson’s The Bookseller is both a delightful and haunting exploration of identity, love and loss. With great style and compassion, the author asks the age-old question: ‘What if my life were different?’ The answers in this affecting debut novel are truly surprising.”
— Joanna Hershon, author of A Dual Inheritance
“I inhaled The Bookseller. I loved both of Kitty’s worlds, and refused to put the book down until I saw how the tension between the two worlds resolved. A deeply satisfying read.”
— Ann Napolitano, author of A Good Hard Look
“Swanson masterfully crafts both Kitty’s and Katharyn’s worlds, leaving open the question of which of them is real until the final pages. Swanson’s evocative novel freshly considers the timeless question, ‘What if?’ ”
— Publishers Weekly
“The novel delivers on its fantasy scenario like a modern-day fairy tale…. proves highly satisfying.”
— USA Today
“Dexterously traversing past and present, fact and fiction, Swanson’s clever first novel ingeniously explores the inventive ways the human spirit copes with trauma.”
“This is a stunner of a debut novel, astonishingly tight and fast paced. The 1960s tone is elegant and even, and Kitty/Katharyn’s journey is intriguing…. This will especially resonate with fans of the movie Sliding Doors and the authors Anna Quindlen and Anita Shreve.”
— Library Journal (starred review)
“Swanson’s debut novel is slightly mysterious and thoroughly engrossing, one of those books that will stay with the reader long after it is complete.”
— Romantic Times
“This is the story of a woman coming to terms with who she is; both woman and novel are beautiful.”
— Shelf Awareness
“. . . An accomplished first novel. It is interesting, intriguing, and ultimately satisfying.”
— New York Journal of Books