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New Release Review! THE LOST AND FOUND BOOKSHOP by Susan Wiggs (Bella Vista Chronicles #3)

The Lost and Found Bookshop cover

In this thought-provoking, wise and emotionally rich novel, New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs explores the meaning of happiness, trust, and faith in oneself as she asks the question, “If you had to start over, what would you do and who would you be?”

There is a book for everything . . .

Somewhere in the vast Library of the Universe, as Natalie thought of it, there was a book that embodied exactly the things she was worrying about.

In the wake of a shocking tragedy, Natalie Harper inherits her mother’s charming but financially strapped bookshop in San Francisco. She also becomes caretaker for her ailing grandfather Andrew, her only living relative—not counting her scoundrel father.

But the gruff, deeply kind Andrew has begun displaying signs of decline. Natalie thinks it’s best to move him to an assisted living facility to ensure the care he needs. To pay for it, she plans to close the bookstore and sell the derelict but valuable building on historic Perdita Street, which is in need of constant fixing. There’s only one problem–Grandpa Andrew owns the building and refuses to sell. Natalie adores her grandfather; she’ll do whatever it takes to make his final years happy. Besides, she loves the store and its books provide welcome solace for her overwhelming grief.

After she moves into the small studio apartment above the shop, Natalie carries out her grandfather’s request and hires contractor Peach Gallagher to do the necessary and ongoing repairs. His young daughter, Dorothy, also becomes a regular at the store, and she and Natalie begin reading together while Peach works.

To Natalie’s surprise, her sorrow begins to dissipate as her life becomes an unexpected journey of new connections, discoveries and revelations, from unearthing artifacts hidden in the bookshop’s walls, to discovering the truth about her family, her future, and her own heart.

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“Women’s fiction” appears to be my lot in life this summer–somehow I keep picking up examples of it to read!–but as long as they have some kind of romance subplot, I won’t complain. Much 😉

(To be honest, it was the word “bookshop” in the title that grabbed me. Who’s with me? I know I’m not alone!)

The Lost and Found Bookshop is the story of Natalie, a woman whose “safe” life is essentially turned upside down in a single day. Can she get back to the life she had? After everything she does and learns, will she even want to?

Overall I liked Natalie–she isn’t terribly happy with her life at the beginning of the book, but she also didn’t really realize that she wasn’t at first, and I think that helped to make her more relatable. It took her mother’s death (not really a spoiler, if you’ve read the blurb carefully) to force her to make some immediate changes and to begin to confront her past so that she could work toward a better future. Throw in some lovably quirky characters (her grandfather, a sexy handyman, and his precocious daughter, among others) and a lovely old bookshop as a setting and you’ve got the ingredients for an engrossing story about life, love, and learning.

The one thing earlyish on that I found a tad bit unrealistic (other than the magic parking spots–i haven’t lived in a city in decades–when I did, I was a small child–and even so, I know street parking is a rare and wonderful thing) was how long it took Natalie to figure out that her hot handyman wasn’t married. I get her making the assumption early on, but why on earth did it persist when she dragged him out of bed in the wee hours of the morning for an emergency repair and he brought his daughter with him? If he had had a wife back in that bed, the daughter would have stayed with her. And if it had been a case of her being out of town, etc., that would have been part of the “I have to bring Dorothy with me” explanation. I mean, that went on so long it bordered on silly, and it made the romantic subplot a veeeerrrrrrrry sllllllllooooow one.

Later on there were a whole lot of coincidences and convenient plot points that all came together to bring us the HEA–overall I didn’t mind *too* much, because it was a sweet ending and I did want things to turn out well for all of the characters–but still, there were an awful lot of historically significant items hidden in that building 😉 Overall, Ms Wiggs did a decent job of giving us plausible reasons for each coincidence, but still…some suspension of belief may be warranted.

The Lost and Found Bookshop is the third book in Ms Wigg’s Bella Vista Chronicles series, but it worked just fine as a standalone. Natalie’s BFF is Tess from the first book ( The Apple Orchard ) but I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything by not having read it yet. Chances are good I probably *will* read it, though–I did like what I saw of Tess here, and since reading women’s fiction does appear to be my lot in life this summer… 😉 )

Rating: 4 stars / B

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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