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Literary Friday: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and Dreams of Lilacs

Friday, June 20, 2014

Good morning, My Lovelies!  Thanks for your kind comments about Finlay's post.  Last weekend, I read two wonderful books, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and Dreams of Lilacs.

I've read every romance that Lynn Kurland has ever written.  I think she's the best romance writer, and it's been fun to read about the de Piaget and MacLeod families over the years.  This one is not a time travel novel like several of her books: Instead it's a straight medieval story about Isabelle de Piaget.  Kurland's fans have been waiting for her story for years….she's the youngest daughter of Rhys and Gwen (and Miles' twin sister).  I enjoyed the story arc as Amanda steps "out of the shadows"  and becomes a confident and graceful lady who can easily manage a fierce French duke.  Isabelle always felt less than her beautiful and gregarious older sister Amanda, and she also felt like she was second to her in every way, but from everyone else's point of view, she certainly seems to be equal to Amanda in beauty and certainly in fierceness!

Isabelle receives a mysterious missive: if she doesn't appear at her grandmother's abby in France, her family will be systematically killed.  It also says she can't tell anyone about her mission to save her family.  Amanda tricks her brothers and manages to almost make it to France disguised as a boy before her ship is wrecked and she barely makes it to shore.  Gervase de Seger finds her roadside during a storm and rescues her.  He's recovering from a brutal beating that almost killed him and left him in immense pain, so he fails to notice that Isabelle is indeed a beautiful woman.  Once her gender is discovered, he puts her to work in his kitchen as a scullery maid.  At this point Isabelle has lost her memory, and her family is frantically trying to find her.

I love the de Piagets.  The fiercest knights in all of England, they aren't thrilled to discover that their precious Isabelle has been working as a scullery maid. {Poor Gervase.}  I enjoyed seeing a different side of Miles in this story: He's a bit more serious as the situation warrants.  I also loved being introduced to Gervase and (most) of his younger brothers.  I was not surprised by who wrote the missive bringing Isabelle to France in the first place, but the backstory and motivations are interesting.  This is a great beach read, and now I want to go back and read Rhys and Gwen's story.

My second selection, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, is a gift from Sun Dog Books in Seaside, Florida.  Thank-you, Mr. Art @ Home!  I loved it!

This is a sweet story about a nerdy indie bookstore owner named A.J. Fikry. The store is located on a fictitious island off the coast of Massachusetts:  I love the setting!  A.J. is a recent widower, and his grief is killing him (literally). During one of his drunken episodes, A.J. leaves the store unlocked, and a thief steals his priceless folio of Poe's Tamerlane from his apartment above the store.  It appears that an exchange has been made because a toddler is found in the bookstore shortly after the folio is discovered missing.  A.J. becomes attached to the little girl and adopts her.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but what I loved most about the book is how A.J. and his daughter Maya love literature and share this love with each other.  A.J. begins reading short stories because he finds he can manage them easier while taking care of Maya.  At the beginning of each chapter, A.J. introduces a short story with a critique for his daughter and an encouraging word or two. I loved that about the book, and a few of my favorite stories are included:  A Good Man Is Hard To Find, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and A Perfect Day for Bananafish.  Such wonderful stories!  This book makes me want to be like Grigg from The Jane Austen Book Club and read all the stories referenced.

Although the plot does have a few interesting twists, this is definitely not a plot-driven story.  A. J. is a very opinionated bookseller who truly relates almost everything in his life to quality literature.  His flaws are equally endearing, and the secondary characters are quirky and eccentric, too.  I love how several book clubs are formed based on interests in the town, and Island Books becomes a gathering place for the island's inhabitants.  I want to live on Alice Island! 

What have you been reading?  This is a link party!

Literary Friday

Until next time…

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. How fun- both of those sound sweet and light. And I love a quirktastic book with literary references (the concept sounds a bit Silas Marner, too). Yay!

  2. Oh that second one sounds like a perfect book club book!
    Thanks for hosting! :)

  3. I've added both of these to my book list. They both look like ones I would enjoy. Thanks for sharing, as always RJ!

  4. Hi! I am visiting from Art and Sand. I also couldn't hardly wait for Diana Gabaldon's newest book!

  5. Glad to meet you - I'm here from Art & Sand. I see your reading the latest Outlander book! I'm a fan. I've been trying to re-read the series before I move on to the new book. But I'm not progressing very quickly and I still have 3 left. I would go ahead and just read it, but I don't want the hardback. I don't want to mess up my collection!

  6. I want to read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry too. I don't have a copy yet, but all the reviews have me wanting to get my hands on the book!

  7. This sounds like a MeMe right up my alley. I love Lynn Kurlands books but haven't read any lately and this one I will have to check out. Also someone at work recommended the second
    book on your list to me so I will have to add that to my never ending list.


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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