Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

I fell head-over-heels in love with Karen Hawkins' novel, The Book Charmer, and her characters. The delightful book is set in Dove Pond, North Carolina, a town struggling to stay alive in 2019. It takes a little magic, a great deal of friendship, passion, and love, mixed with a little trouble and sadness, to keep a town alive.

In 2001, when Sarah May Dove, the youngest of the seven Dove sisters, was seven, a book spoke to her for the first time. She wasn't surprised because everyone in town knew the Dove sisters were special. Sarah May loved the library, where all the books were magic, but the one who spoke to her insisted she had to read it. It was a book written by another seventh daughter in the family, one who wrote about the history of Dove Pond. It was the first time Sarah May paid attention to a history book instead of a book about dragons.

Eighteen years later, Sarah is the town librarian, and she now understands that she can't save Dove Pond by herself. The town has been declining as businesses closed and people moved away. But, Sarah passionately loves her town, and knows the right person will come along, love the town, and help her save it. Grace Wheeler doesn't match Sarah's image of a savior.

Grace Wheeler's mother left her and her younger sister, Hannah, and the two ended up in the foster care system. Everyone wants to keep Hannah, but Grace's anger gets her in trouble at one home after another. Then, when she's ten, the caseworker takes them to Mrs. Giano, who sees Grace's anger immediately. With Mama G's wisdom, Grace learns to tame her anger until 2019 when Hannah dies, leaving behind her own eight-year-old daughter, Daisy. Because Mama G is in the first stages of Alzheimer's, and Daisy is lost, Grace quits her high-powered job, and moves the three of them to a rental house in Dove Pond, North Carolina. She hopes her job as town clerk will provide enough money to take care of them until Grace can move them all back to Charlotte. Sarah hopes Grace will step up as savior of the town, and stay forever.

Karen Hawkins' beautiful novel is a story of strong women of all ages. Grace's story is one of struggle, but she's determined to care for her family. If I told you it was a novel with a veteran who can't sleep, Mama G facing her loss of memory, Grace's struggle with keeping her family together, and Sarah's struggle to make friends with Grace and find answers for the town, The Book Charmer would sound like a depressing story. Yes, I cried, but it's a story of courage, a book with as much wisdom as some of those books who spoke to Sarah. There's humor, and, of course, there's those magical books. And, this is a book just begging for a sequel because Sarah's story is not yet complete.

Anyone who loves stories of magic and books and friendship should pick up The Book Charmer. If you're a fan of Sarah Addison Allen's books, you'll feel as if you came home.

Karen Hawkins' website is

The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins. Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster), 2019. ISBN 9781982105549 (paperback), 368p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Gram said...

Thanks for another one I added to my soon library list.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Gram. This one should be on a "soon" list.

Sharon said...

Your review of this gem of a book expressed my sentiments better than I ever could Lesa. And magical parts about books was not overdone.
I will be interested in your thoughts about WHEN WE BELIEVED IN MERMAIDS. I loved it as well.

NoraA said...

I finished it yesterday and gave it 5 stars on Goodread's. My partner read it today and asked when the next book is coming out. It was an amazing story and we couldn't put it down.

Lesa said...

I'm looking forward to it, Sharon, but, this week, I'm on deadline again, so I won't get to it right away.

Wonderful book, wasn't it, Nora? I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads as well. I've downloaded the novella set there, but haven't read it yet.

Kay said...

I just picked up this book on audio and look forward to reading it very much. Yes, I've heard that there are sad parts, but it sounds right up my alley. Thanks for sharing about it, Lesa! Looks like you're having a nice summer with family. :-)

Lesa said...

Kay, I think you're going to enjoy it. And, yes, I'm having a great summer with family, and we have a family trip to Connecticut coming up in a few weeks. Looking forward to it!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I loved this book so much. And, like you, I think it's begging for a sequel (fingers crossed!).

Lesa said...

Yes, keeping my fingers crossed, Kaye. We never really learned the story about Sarah's embarrassing event with the sheriff, and they're not together yet!