Does this ever happen to you? Sometimes I will see a book, perhaps reviews of a book or the book itself frequently. It seems like it is suddenly everywhere. I usually take that as a sign that I should read the book. I should probably take it as a sign that I have been reading a lot of reviews or going to the book store frequently but instead I take it as a sign from the heavens that I should read the book.
The latest book that caught my attention is The Storied Life of A. J. Filkry. I suppose part of what caught my eye was the cover. Maybe it was the name in the title or the look of the cover but it reminded me of books like Mr. Penumbras 24 Hour Bookstore and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Whatever it was, I found myself drawn to read The Storied Life of A. J. Filkry. I didn’t even know what the book was about before I started it.
The Storied Life of A. J. Filkry opens with a synopsis of the Roald Dahl short story Lamb to the Slaughter. The synopsis is written with a short description of the story and A.J. Filkry’s personal thoughts about the story. As the story opens we are introduced to Amelia Loman who is a sales representative for Knightly Press. She is on her way to Island Books out on Alice Island. She is going to meet with A. J. Filkry the owner of the bookstore to try to sell him her winter list of books. She almost misses the store but suddenly sees the faded sign.
Alice Island’s Exclusive Provider of Fine Literary Content
No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World
The meeting does not go well and Amelia leaves with a very poor impression of A. J. Filkry. We learn in short order that A.J. Filkry is a recent widower and he is not faring well in the role.
We learn throughout the book that A. J. Filkry is the type of person that things happen to – he does not seem to be in control. He is reactive. Much to his surprise, his life changes dramatically through the story. He finds love and friendship and a reason to be glad that he owns the bookstore.
Each chapter in the book starts with a short description of a short story. As the book proceeds the reader discovers why A. J. has written the synopsis and who they are written for.
“I like talking about books with people who like talking about books. “
The Storied Life of A. J. Filkry
One of the things that I like about the book are the literary references. There are the comments about the short stories and there are other book references scattered throughout the story. I like that in a book – I either find out something new or I can feel “in the know”.
The story is very fast moving. There are times that the many years have passed between chapters. While it keeps the story moving, it is a jolt to go so fast sometimes.
I enjoyed the story. It was not a story that you could see what was going to happen next. There is even a mystery in the book but the book would certainly not be classified as a mystery. I would recommend that you read this book. It is a good addition to your summer reading list.
Gabrielle Zevin is the author of eight books. Three books (including A.J. Filkry) are classified at “Adult” and 5 are classified as “Young Adult”. She also wrote the screenplay for “Conversations with Other Women.” The Storied Life of A. J. Filkry is the April, 2014 Indie Indie Next Pick and a #1 LibraryReads Selection. You can find out more about Ms. Zevin at her web site.
Thanks for reading.