Many thanks to Simon and Schuster and to Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus for the ARC that magically appeared on my doorstep.
Here’s the Goodreads synopsis for you:
Words are messy. Love is messier.
A hilarious, insightful new novel from the creators of Books on the Rail
Meet Beatrix Babbage – 29-year-old dog-earer of books and accidental destroyer of weddings.
After ruining her best friend’s nuptials, Bea relocates to the other side of the country in search of a fresh start, including meeting new people, living life to the fullest and finally pulling off balayage.
But after a few months, life is more stagnant than ever. Bea’s job is dead-end. Her romantic life? Non-existent. And her only friends are her books, her barista and her cleaning lady.
Then Bea stumbles across a second-hand novel, inscribed with notes. Besotted with the poetic inscriptions, Bea is determined to find the author … and finds herself entangled in one hell of a love quadrangle.
Funny, poignant and insightful, While You Were Reading reveals that there’s no such thing as perfection, the value of true friendship and, most importantly, the power of not living in fiction, but still reading it … Often.
A love story for book lovers that celebrates much more than romance.
I’m not a romance reader, but I enjoyed this one as there’s a lot more going on in it that just romance. I am a sucker for books about books, written by book lovers.
Bea is a bit of a frustrating character who sometimes shows resilience and determination, and at other times allows herself to be swept along with whatever is happening no matter how terrible the idea is. There are moments when you are shaking your fist at her and shouting “what are you doing woman?” Or at least I was.
Bea is a passionate lover of books (and I appreciated that there is a the list of books mentioned in the back of the book). As mentioned in the synopsis, Bea finds a secondhand book covered in wonderful writings, and becomes obsessed with finding the owner of the book. She also starts a book recommendation club, kind of like speed dating except for books. (Seriously, this is a great idea, can we please have one in Brisbane?) Both of these drive her adventures -romantic and otherwise.
I really loved the range of women characters in this book and how good they were for each other. Apart from the family who are trying so hard to help but are actually not (we’ve all been there), Bea meets and befriends a number of older women who help her through her various ventures and become valuable mentors for her. These women help her with other aspects of her life, such as starting a new business and helping her get her book club up and running. It was really refreshing to see women in roles as business mentors and role models rather than just as romantic rivals, best mates or family.
Bea has changed a lot by the end of the book – she has become stronger, more comfortable in her own skin and is more likely to think about what she wants, rather than what the people around her want from her.
If I’m any example, even non romance readers will enjoy this one. It’s available in all good book stores now!
Also, ferrets are rad. #justsaying