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June 6, 2023

The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela Kelley ~ a Review

by Donna Huber


Best friends Allison and Jess, along with their adult daughters, reconnect and discover new directions for their lives during summer in Cape Cod. A multi-generational story that shows that it is never too late to start again.

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

book club of beach read The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela Kelley
June 2023; St. Martin's Griffin; 978-1250283573
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); women's fiction

The Bookshop by the Bay
 is my first book from Pamela Kelley. She ranks right up there with the Queens of Beach Reads - Nancy Thayer, Debbie Macomber, Mary Kay Andrews, and Anita Hughes. This won't be my last book by Kelley - I'm adding her to my list of must-read authors. (When I finish with this review, I'm going to see what books my library might have).

What avid reader doesn't dream of owning a bookshop? Some of my favorite beach reads are set in Nantucket, but Cape Cod is almost as good of a setting (Kelley does have a series set in Nantucket). It's on my bucket list to one day visit the New England coast, but until then I will keep visiting in the pages of books.

I loved the characters. I was a little shocked that Allison's and Jess's daughters still lived at home (though Allison's daughter Julia had recently gotten her own place), but Cape Cod isn't cheaper and neither is Charleston, SC where Jess and Caitlyn live. I have read other beach reads with well-off characters and sometimes I get annoyed with the characters as they "struggle" financially because of a change in marital status because I can't relate to their struggle as it is usually a loss in social status (country club membership, McMansion home) rather than a true financial hardship. That wasn't the case with these characters. They felt very real and down-to-earth.

Julia is the owner of a custom jewelry store where she makes her own pieces. She is concerned about making enough to cover costs - she even bounces a check for insufficient funds - all real possibilities for a small business owner, especially one in a tourist town. Caitlyn can't seem to keep a job. While her situation is the most difficult for me to relate to, I know a lot of people now in their late 20s and early 30s are struggling to find a good career fit. Allison works for a magazine that is falling on hard times as more people turn to the internet for their news. She's facing a layoff. Again a reality for people in the publishing industry. Jess knows her marriage is over but it is easier to just go through the motions rather than initiate a very difficult conversation until she can no longer ignore the situation. As she works in the same law firm as her husband and whose family founded the firm - it's not just a change in her marital status that will change, she will also need to make a career change.

With the freedom to do so, Jess and Caitlyn decide to spend the summer in Jess's hometown of Chatham where her mother, Allison, and Julia still live.  For the four women, summer is going to be a time of change and if they are open to it it might just put them on the path to their best lives.

I'm usually very disciplined about going to bed at a decent hour. A book might keep me up an hour or two past my bedtime (if it is the weekend) but it has been a long time since I've stayed up reading until 2 am. My Kindle said I still had 1.5 hours left but I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer otherwise I probably would have kept reading until I finished the book. The story flows really well making it a fast read and adding to the difficulty of putting it down. 

It is also the perfect novel for relaxing. Yes, there is some light conflict but it isn't anxiety-inducing and resolves itself pretty quickly. It is kind of like a daydream where you know everything is going to work out perfectly. I definitely recommend this for a lazy weekend or your vacation trip.



Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour




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