The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

Audiobook CD - 2014
Average Rating:
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The irascible A. J. Fikry, owner of Island Books, has already lost his wife. Now his most prized possession, a rare book, has been stolen from right under his nose. One night upon closing, he discovers a toddler in his children's section with a note from her mother saying she can no longer raise her. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the transformation of both bookstore and owner, especially to the lovely yet eccentric sales rep, Amelia Loman.
Publisher: [Minneapolis, MN] : HighBridge Audio, [2014]
ISBN: 9781622313532
1622313534
Branch Call Number: SCD FICTION Zevin
Characteristics: 6 sound discs (5.75 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in
Additional Contributors: Brick, Scott

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m
mdextras
Nov 05, 2017

This is a book club read. It is not a difficult book to read, the characters are well defined, easy to understand and imagine. It is easy to imagine Alice Island, the main street, the Island Bookstore. Ms. Zevin writes excellent descriptions. The problem with this book is that it is too predictable. I read this book and in thinking about it afterwords it suddenly occurred to me that despite all the sadness in this book, I shed no tears, not even close.

I looked up the definition of "storied". In Mirriam-Webster online, "decorated with designs representing scenes from story or history a storied tapestry" It reminded me of the Bayeux Tapestry in France, a 70 metre tapestry that tells the story of the Norman Conquest of England. As you walk along the tapestry that is displayed in a way that you walk around it, what you see along the way is predictable, you know what will happen next.

It is not a boring book that is hard to finish but it is certainly not, for me anyways, a book that I can say "I loved it!" It is not a book I would recommend whole heartily.

2
2432
Dec 12, 2015

Recommended.
***** 5 stars !
... Full of unexpected evolving story.
Stick with it.

w
wyenotgo
Aug 20, 2015

The book seemed a bit arms-length at the beginning, notably because Maya's personality takes a long time to develop and it takes time for A.J. to emerge from his bitterness at his wife's death. Indeed, each of the characters emerges slowly; it isn't until late in the book that the pivotal role of Ismay becomes clear. I was reminded of how Thomas Hardy, in an earlier era allowed his characters to reveal themselves a little at a time, a very great skill on the part of a writer but one that requires the reader to be patient and just go along for the ride. The story grew on me and I found it a very satisfying read. My only criticism is that toward the end, everything was tied up too neatly, with all the right couples finding their way together in a happy, satisfying scenario. Life seldom works out that conveniently; but the characters are so endearing that it's easy to forgive the author for treating them so kindly.
Although the plots and situations are entirely different, comparisons have been drawn between this book and "The Rosie project" and "The Incredible Pilgrimage of Harold Fry", both of which, as it happens I recently read; the similarity lies in the mood, atmosphere and possibly the intent of the three books; essentially, all three are about the power of love to change our lives and our willingness to accept the often eccentric behavior of people we love.

t
terber
Jul 03, 2015

I listened to this with a glass of wine on the dock at the cottage and it was a perfect afternoon. This book is comforting and cute but still manages to deliver a good story that moves you. My first and hopefully not last perfect book for the summer.

KBelait Jun 12, 2015

If you love books and the world of books you would really enjoy this entertaining book.
It is a warm & engaging novel of a book store with interesting characters.
It has a bit of mystery, romance and above all a love story : love of books, family, community.
Depicts a deep knowledge of book-selling, book clubs and author events. It is optimistic about the future of books and bookstores and the people who love both.

librarylizzard Jun 08, 2015

This sweet little gem is one of my favorite easy reads of the last year. A perfect mix of literary references, family drama/secrets, and a grumpy man who slowly rekindles his lust for life, set in a bookstore on a remote island. It's not highbrow literature, but neither is it meaningless fluff. It is a light but touching story that leaves you feeling optimistic.

r
Russ_A
May 28, 2015

Our eponymous hero is an arrogant, unkind, elitist bookstore owner on Alice Island off the Massachusetts coast, dependent on summer tourists who are increasingly turning to ereaders. Recently widowed and in a bad place emotionally, he excoriates the klutzy new sales rep from Knightly Press who comes to present her company’s winter reading list. Bah, humbug! Soon a mysterious theft occurs – a rare and very valuable first edition is stolen from his store, something he had found serendipitously at an estate sale. He had been counting on that for his retirement nest egg. Now he was going to have to be nice to people because the store was barely scraping by and retirement was not in the cards.

Soon thereafter he comes back to his store after an errand and finds a young child and a note left there. The mother, who is soon discovered to have committed suicide after abandoning the child, wanted the precocious child to grow up around books, hence the choice of A.J.’s store. He must turn the child over to Child Protective Services, of course … but then surprise, surprise, the near-perfect child begins to melt the icicles in his heart à la Ebenezer Scrooge. The rest of the story arc is pretty predictable but that doesn’t diminish the enjoyment. The missing first edition mystery keeps a little suspense going, but as you learn more about the island’s inhabitants, mystery fans can pride themselves in figuring that one out, too.

I chose this book because of its long-time appearance on the best-seller lists, so I have no illusions about bringing a hidden gem to your attention, but since most of my readers are mystery fans, this one might not have been on your radar. Four stars is a bit strong, perhaps, but I enjoyed the book. The characters are (eventually) pretty much all likeable and the quaint setting fun as well.

martins_mom Apr 23, 2015

I love books about libraries and bookstores, and this is a good one. Slightly unrealistic that such a small community (an island off the Massachusetts coast that relies heavily on summer visitors) could support such a vibrant bookstore, but then again Galiano can...

t
tlell
Apr 01, 2015

I loved every word in this book.I kind of scratched my head during the preface, wondering if it would be 'book seller meets author and has sex', but the book turned out to be a romp and a half. Books Rule!

s
StephFurlan
Oct 29, 2014

I absolutely loved this book! It’s one of the few books I’d re-read over and over again. Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a great pick for anyone who understands how the publishing world works or obsessed with books and has a love of reading.

Complete Review: http://feistylittlewoman.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/review-the-storied-life-of-a-j-fikry/

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JCLChrisK Sep 16, 2014

How to account for its presence [on this list of favorites] when I know it is only average? The answer is this: Your dad relates to the characters. It has meaning to me. And the longer I do this (bookselling, yes, of course, but also living if that isn't too awfully sentimental), the more I believe that this is what the point of it all is. To connect, my dear little nerd. Only connect.

JCLChrisK Sep 16, 2014

It is the secret fear that we are unlovable that isolates us, but it is only because we are isolated that we think we are unlovable. Someday, you do not know when, you will be driving down a road. And someday, you do not know when, he, or indeed she, will be there. You will be loved because for the first time in your life, you will truly not be alone. You will have chosen not to be alone.

JCLChrisK Sep 16, 2014

It's Amy's favorite. (She seems so sweet on the surface, no?) Amy and I do not always have the exact same taste in things, but this I like.

When she told me it was her favorite, it suggested to me strange and wonderful things about her character that I had not guessed, dark places that I might like to visit.

People tell boring lies about politics, God, and love. You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?

g
GusAndAbe
Aug 23, 2014

“Love you,” Maya says. “Yes, she keeps saying that,” A.J. says. “I warned her about giving love that hasn’t yet been earned, but honestly, I think it’s the influence of that insidious Elmo. He loves everyone, you know?”
― Gabrielle Zevin, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel

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m
maggielo
Aug 19, 2015

bookstore widow, child left in store, stolen book

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