Monday, May 23, 2011
The book shows Helene’s personality best because she is the most open, sharing little tidbits of her personal and professional life as she requests new books and praises or complains about the ones she has received. But we are also treated to sidelong views of the booksellers, some of whom move away or pass away during the course of twenty years. It’s amazing how well they portray themselves in so few words. Lives are encapsulated in snapshots.
What I like best about the book is how uplifting it is. These are normal people going about their normal lives and they are open-hearted, trusting, generous, compassionate, grateful, kind, and friendly. What starts out as a commercial transaction – a woman writing an open-ended letter to a used bookseller – blossoms into a twenty-year friendship. It’s pleasant to catch a glimpse of a world in which people are inherently good. I need a little of that every once in awhile.