Mimi, the bookseller at Title Wave, the bookstore in Watersend, South Carolina, welcomes readers to her bookstore, a place as magic as the river. The characters revolve around the bookstore, the beginning and end of the story, a place of secrets and answers in Patti Callahan Henry's The Bookshop at Water's End.
When Mimi welcomes Piper Blankenship to the book store, she recognizes a reader. She also recognizes her as the daughter of one of the two girls who called themselves the "Summer Sisters". Bonny Blankenship and Lainey McKay haven't been back to Watersend since the day Lainey's mother disappeared. The question of her whereabouts, whether she is alive or dead, has haunted Lainey and Bonny, in different ways. Despite her happy marriage and two children, Lainey still searches for her mother. The disappearance drove Lainey's brother, Owen, to live a life of adventure, never settling down. And, Bonny, who always loved Owen, is trapped in an unhappy marriage and still yearns for Owen.
It's Bonny who brings them back back to Watersend. As an ER doctor, she made a fatal mistake, and while she waits for the judgment that could change her life, she packs up her daughter, heads to Watersend, and begs Lainey to return. While Piper searches for answers to her troubled first year in college, Bonny and Lainey are desperately searching for answers. Lainey is still obsessed with her mother's disappearance. Bonny, who may be on the verge of losing everything she worked for, wants to know what her future will bring. It's Piper's actions that will culminate in answers, not necessarily the answers Bonny or Lainey expect.
Escape to The Bookshop at Water's End in this thoughtful, character-driven novel. Henry's story is about three women desperate for answers. Then, there are several wise women, who encourage them to appreciate the present, to appreciate the people in their life right now, and to find the way to forgive them. My favorite characters? Those wise women, the voices of the past who remind all of us to live in the present. Step into Mimi's bookstore, and the heart of the story.
Note: Henry sucks a reader into the bookstore and the setting of the book immediately, with these words on the first page. "It was a look I knew well. So glad to be in a cozy bookshop, in air-conditioned comfort, surrounded by stories, and to find that in the chaos of the world there was still a place like this. A place where books were piled to the ceiling and tables were crowded with the paraphernalia of reading: bookmarks, reading lights, stationery, pens and framed quotes to inspire."
Patti Callahan Henry's website is www.patticallahanhenry.com
The Bookshop at Water's End by Patti Callahan Henry. Berkley. 2017. ISBN 9780399583117 (paperback), 352p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy, hoping I would review it.