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A Novel Bookstore Paperback – August 31, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
The founding of a unique Paris bookstore triggers jealousies and threats in Cossé's intriguing follow-up to The Corner of the Veil (1999). Former comic-book seller Ivan "Van" Georg and stylish Francesca Aldo-Valbelli team to establish the Good Novel, a bookshop that will stock only masterpieces in fiction, which are selected by a secret committee of writers. At first, the warm welcome of the bookstore results in soaring sales. Then attacks in the press, the opening of rival bookstores, and attempts against the lives of committee members by persons unknown sour the atmosphere for the Good Novel's community of readers and writers. Cossé poignantly depicts characters who have turned to literature for solace against the pain in their lives, creates ongoing speculation as to the shadowy first-person narrator, and furnishes sly commentary about gatekeeping in the literary world. Though purists may be disappointed with the solution to the mystery, there's plenty of food for thought.
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*Starred Review* Ivan and Francesca’s idea of bliss is a bookshop selling only the finest literature: time-honored treasures as well as overlooked masterpieces, little gems, and innovative new publications. Their dream becomes reality when they open their own shop, The Good Novel, in a fine but unpretentious Paris arrondissement. Their inventory is comprised of recommendations from eight respected authors, an anonymous committee who submit lists of their 600 favorite books. With quiet fanfare, the store opens and immediately achieves great success. Notice is then taken by the mainstream press: Who are these elitists, and how dare they tell everyone what to read? Mayhem ensues. The blogosphere erupts; the Internet roils. Erstwhile competitors spring up overnight, pandering to pedestrian tastes and trumpeting their pseudoegalitarian ideals. Ivan and Francesca stoically try to take it in stride until three of their nominating committee members fall victim to near-fatal accidents. Enveloping this diabolical mystery in a delicate love story, Cossé crafts a luscious paean to bibliophilia, gracefully translated from the French by Anderson. Wry, sly, and coyly seditious, Cossé’s piquant satire is a subtly wrought manifesto against blatant consumer manipulation and media malfeasance. --Carol Haggas
Top customer reviews
The characters are allegorical but at the same time Cosse breathes enough life into Ivan and Francesca that it doesn't feel that way. It celebrates great books and if you take nothing else from it, you could get a great life list of books to read from the titles mentioned along the way. But it's more than that.
Francesca's letter to Le Ponte newspaper defending The Good Novel from its attackers is beautifully written, heartfelt, and one of the most profound descriptions I've ever read of how literature touches lives. If you choose not to read the book, next time you're in a bookstore you may want to read the letter; it begins on page 277 of the paperback.
The mystery is literally weak but there too, the subtext is subtle and rich. At times the book is heart-wrenching in deep ways reserved for books that are sentimental but never maudlin.
The different factions opposing the bookstore A Good Novel are painted with a broad brush because their agendas are not subtle, but even there a reader like me who knows nothing about the mechanics and politics of publishing today will find it interesting. But the main characters and the novelists, along with many of the books featured, offer a varied and nuanced look into the heart of great literature, and the end result touched my heart and moved me in many ways.
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