18th February, 2019

Review: Miss Mary’s Book of Dreams by Sophie Nicholls (Bonnier Books)

The premise of this book sounded so promising that I fell in love with it immediately. Unfortunately, that was a bit too rash of an act and the story eventually left me wanting. I’ll tell you why in a second, but first a short synopsis of what Miss Mary’s Book of Dreams is actually about. Here is the back cover blurb:

Ella runs Happily Ever After, a bookshop nestled in the cobbled streets of York. She's a wife, a mother and a successful novelist. But something is missing . . .
One day a strange girl comes into Ella's shop. Bryony is shy and unsure, and Ella feels a strange connection to her.
With the help of one very special book - and a little touch of magic - can these women help each other find the fairy tale endings they've been searching for?

See my predicament? The plot summary sounds amazing: books, a bit of magic, family secrets, etc. So the dilemma then occured when the book doesn’t deliver.

It was an enjoyable read – alright – but it didn’t keep me hooked. Frequently, I found myself zoning out and then had trouble getting back into the story. There were some mildly interesting characters such as Ella or Bryony but also quite a few that I didn’t care about at all, such as Fabia. And even with the first I didn’t really connect.

What was cute was the idea of having little spells from Miss Mary’s book at the beginning of each chapter. The novel has a certain magical feel to it, which I also liked, but again this doesn’t seem like it was thoroughly seen through. I would have loved more background and yes, that was basically my problem with the entire book: It was lacking substance and this is probably why the characters seem so flat. Also, with such a mesmerising setting like a bookshop called Happily Ever After, I can only blame the author if they don’t fully take advantage of it. How can you possibly ruin such a place? There were only superficial descriptions of the shop itself which is of course disappointing for any bookworm – and “hello?”, a book with this kind of synopsis, i.e. a book about a bookshop and… well… books, will attract mostly true booklovers who long for a sort of "meta" feel.

This all sounds very harsh and I don’t mean to come across as unforgiving but I was just very disenchanted after expecting so much. Nicholls definitely isn’t a bad writer. I really liked her writing style but the story would have needed quite a bit more tweaking.

Rating: 2/5 stars 

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