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March 26, 2023

The Echo of Old Books by Barbara Davis~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"Books are feelings...They exist to make us feel.  To connect us to what's inside, sometimes to things we don't even know are there."
  (p 4)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of women's fiction novel The Echo of Old Books by Barbara Davis
March 2023; Lake Union Publishing; 978-1662511608
audio, ebook, print (443 pages); women's fiction

Books are powerful and no one realizes that more than rare bookseller Ashlyn Greer.  When she picks up a book, she can feel the echoes of the book's previous owners - their love, pain, loss, and fear.  Sometimes she wonders if having this is a gift or not.  She owns a bookshop that sells rare books and is constantly surrounded by books that share their feelings with her when she touches them.  As she is going through several boxes of books that a friend who owns a re-sale shop has recently received, she finds a book that gives her strong feelings.  When she examines it, she finds no author's name or copyright information.  Intrigued, she takes the book back to her shop and starts reading it. When she also finds a companion book, that is also beautifully bound, she realizes that neither book had been published and neither book had any identifying information.  She soon discovers the two authors, Belle and Hemi, are giving opposing sides of a tragic romance.  As Ashlyn continues to read both books, she is further pulled into the mystery and romance between the two authors and needs to learn more about the story behind the books.  She is sure that the books are not fiction and wants to find out who the authors really are.  She has few clues to go on but that doesn't stop her in her quest.  Will she be able to find the two bitter ex-lovers and discover the real story behind the two beautiful books?

Ashlyn was a complex and beautifully written character.  She had a sad childhood and a bad marriage and was afraid to move on in her life due to all of her bad memories.  Books were the main happiness in her life and she was determined to solve this mystery.  The authors of the two books -- Belle and Hemi were also well-written and full of mystery.  Even though the reader knew very early in the book that their affair would end, the reveal of why it ended was slowly unfolded in the story.

This book was unique in the way that it was written.  It was told in two different time periods - Ashlyn in 1984 and Belle/Hemi in 1941.  The unique part of the book was that the story in the past was told as Ashlyn read their books.  First a chapter from Belle and then a chapter from Hemi that gave two sides to what was going on in their lives.  I really enjoyed reading the two books inside the book and thought that it was a very interesting and fantastic way to tell their stories.  I love reading books about books and this one with two books inside of it was a real treasure.  It was well written and all of the pieces melded perfectly to tell the story.

I have read all of Barbara Davis's books and she just keeps getting better.  This book told in three voices must have been a challenge but she does a fantastic job of making the integration of the voices seamless and not in the least confusing.  It's an emotional book with characters that I felt like I knew and won't soon forget.

Buy Echo of Old Books at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.  

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