Maggie Duprès, recently "involuntarily separated from payroll" at a Silicon Valley start-up, is whiling away her days in The Dragonfly's Used Books, a Mountain View institution, waiting for the Next Big Thing to come along.
When the opportunity arises for her to network at a Bay Area book club, she jumps at the chance -- even if it means having to read Lady Chatterley's Lover, a book she hasn't encountered since college, in an evening. But the edition she finds at the bookstore is no Penguin ClassicsChatterley -- it's an ancient hardcover with notes in the margins between two besotted lovers of long ago. What Maggie finds in her search for the lovers and their fate, and what she learns about herself in the process, will surprise and move readers.
Here is a quote from my notes (yes, I take notes): "Funny and well-written without the paragraphs or the descriptions being too long." (I don't have to be grammatically correct in my note-taking!) I appreciate humor as long as it doesn't take away from the poignancy of the book. And, in this case, it doesn't. Nice going, Shelly. In fact, at one point, I even thought to myself that this is very Beth-like. And you all know what I think of Beth Hoffman and her books.
There is a scene at the Bay Area book club mentioned in the synopsis where she is talking to the very fancy woman who runs the club and who owns the house that is hosting the event. The woman asks Maggie what she's been doing since she lost her job at the high tech start-up. Here is her answer. The italics reflect what she really means in her response. This is pretty darn clever.
"I've been doing some pro bono consulting at a small used bookstore my neighbor owns." I've been wasting time at the Dragonfly and learning 1500 new ways to describe a man's privates. "Sales have been soft with the downturn in the local economy." No one gives a flying frog's butt about the Dragonfly with Apollo across the street. "I'm working with him to improve his margin." I'm sitting in a dusty window reading trashy novels.
It's definitely fun to read a book that takes place in a used bookstore (that syncs up nicely with our book club now taking up residence in a used bookstore). And it's fun to be familiar with Castro Street in Mt. View, where most of the book takes place. BUT, if you don't live in the Bay Area, or don't know downtown Mt. View, not to worry. You will enjoy the book as much as the rest of us.
I will give you one more quote. Lolly Winston, whose books I have very much liked, says of Shelly's book: "Shelly King is among my all-time favorite writers. Her prose brims with beauty and her plots always pack a well-earned punch." That about sums it up.