The Lost and Found Bookshop is a hot new release from Susan Wiggs. It just came out in July 2020, and my library is currently swamped with requests for it. I was lucky enough to listen to the audio narration of the book.
First, props to the author, who leads off quoting the Newbery honor book, Tuck Everlasting. It is one of my favorite books from childhood (even ahead of Nancy Drew!) so I immediately had hope that the book would be as good as all the reviews I’d read.
Natalie is reeling from the sudden death of her mother and boyfriend of one year in a plane crash. What makes it especially horrible is that she had been planning to dump Rick because she just didn’t see their relationship going any further; she like Rick well enough, he was a good man, but there was something missing. When she finds out that Rick was flying her mother to visit her and had an engagement ring on him, Natalie is stunned.
She returns home to the bookshop her mother ran, a place where she grew up, in the upstairs apartment. Not only does Natalie have to deal with the mounting debt of the bookshop, she has to take care of her Grandy, her 79-year old grandfather who is in the early stages of dementia and lives behind the bookshop. In fact, the shop had originally been his typewriter factory, and before that, a shop run by his father.
While running the store, Natalie meets a young girl named Dorothy (named after the L. Frank Baum heroine), who just loves the books of Trevor Dashwood. He’s an immensely successful author who happens to live in the San Francisco area. Dorothy’s father, Peach (Peter, but he grew up in Georgia and obtained the nickname when younger) Gallagher is hired as a handyman to make some needed repairs to the building before Natalie can sell it and move her grandfather into assisted living. Handyman Pete is a looker, of course, and finds Natalie attractive, but has a strict no dating clients rule.
There’s just one wrinkle to selling the building: Grandy owns it, not her mother, and refuses to sell. So Natalie and Handyman Peach set about to making the living space safer for her grandfather, moving him to the first floor, adding an alarm system, guard rails in the bathroom, etc. It is this time that Natalie decides to move back home full time, quit her job and run the bookstore.
But Natalie’s in for a big surprise. There’s a mountain of debt for the bookstore and building, and there seems to be no way out of foreclosure. She hopes to boost sales by having some author signings and increase online sales. Meanwhile, Grandy keeps mentioning that the building had a treasure that was lost long ago.
Throughout The Lost and Found Bookshop, we read both Grandy and Peach’s perspectives, which furthers the narrative. Added to that narrative is a journal of a young Irish woman, Colleen, found while doing repairs to the building. She was an incredible sketch artist. She mentions meeting a Hearst, as in the publishing Hearsts, and something about a first edition of Audobon sketch books, four oversized, hand painted volumes that were said to number only 200 when first published in the 1830s.
While repairing the plumbing, Peach discovers a metal box full of personal mementos and medals. Grandy insists that while they might be worth some money, they should go to the descendants of the original owner, whose information is inside the box. The same thing goes for the Chinese vase found while renovating. After finding out the history of the vase, and the fact that it could be worth millions of dollars, Grandy insists that the rightful owners reclaim the property, instead of using the monies to help save The Lost and Found Bookshop.
Meanwhile, as Natalie plans author visits, she encounters Trevor Dashwood, who says a young girl name Dorothy wrote and asked him to visit because the bookstore is in trouble. When Natalie confirms that this is true, Trevor offers to squeeze in a personal appearance within the month, and makes a date with her, too. Now there’s kind of sort of a love triangle with Natalie and Peach and Trevor.
The story progresses, and so does Natalie’s growth as a person. She finds herself again, after years of living in the corporate world. Her relationships with Peach and Trevor also progress, and she feels bad about feeling any desire so soon after losing Rick, even though she was going to break up with him.
The story has several obvious conclusions and a few surprises, too, which I won’t spoil you with here. If you’re interested in the story this far, you’ll probably want to pick up The Lost and Found Bookshop yourself.
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