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Chapter and verse

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a life-affirming fable with a twist

Geraldine Gardner

Reporter:

Geraldine Gardner

Email:

geraldine.gardner@newburynews.co.uk

Chapter and verse

The Storied LIfe of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is an enjoyable, easy read. At first I thought we were heading into Silas Marner territory, with the abandoned toddler appearing in the bookshop, but it’s really not that deep.

Ultimately, it is a modern-day fairytale about the ‘circle of life’ to coin an Elton John lyric.

AJ of the title is a bit of a curmudgeonly character who gets off to a bad start with the new sales rep Amelia. But she and Maya, the little girl who he eventually adopts and calls his own, prove to be his salvation, along with the community that the bookshop creates. I particularly liked the moment when he set up a book club for all the local wives and soon ran out of titles with the word wife in them, The Time Traveller’s Wife, Wives and Daughters etc.

Despite his occasional grumpiness, AJ is a likeable soul, as is his mate, the local police chief Lambiase. I'm not sure any of the other characters really came into focus for me, but it was all pleasant enough. Perhaps the most realistic was AJ’s schmuck of a brother-in-law living off his one and only literary success – bit of a car crash theme running through the book.

There’s a little bit of sadness in the book, but the message is simple enough - life goes on and it is all about what you make it.

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