The Bookstore Sisters by Alice Hoffman


“Isabel Gibson has all but perfected the art of forgetting. She’s a New Yorker now, with nothing left to tie her to Brinkley’s Island, Maine. Her parents are gone, the family bookstore is all but bankrupt, and her sister, Sophie, will probably never speak to her again.

But when a mysterious letter arrives in her mailbox, Isabel feels herself drawn to the past. After years of fighting for her independence, she dreads the thought of going back to the island. What she finds there may forever alter her path—and change everything she thought she knew about her family, her home, and herself.”

-Synopsis from StoryGraph


Cover image from StoryGraph

Content warning: death of a parent.

Happy Thanksgiving to all those in the U.S. celebrating today. There are countless authors and books I’m thankful for, and Alice Hoffman is at the top of that list. I thought today was especially appropriate to share how much I enjoyed her latest short story, The Bookstore Sisters.

It’s hard to review short stories without spoilers so I’ve written a brief spoiler-free review and then a second with light spoilers (and other thoughts) below…

Spoiler-Free Review

Somehow Alice Hoffman manages to write a short story that reads like a full length novel! This has everything her writing is known for, celebrating families and love, animals, books, and baking. The main characters have to learn to navigate their grief, and that people grieve in different ways. The quaint, whimsical setting comes to life and by the end of the story I wanted to move to Brinkley’s Island.

Review (With Spoilers)

Here are some additional thoughts I had while reading: the audiobook narrator was not my favorite. I think she made Violet’s dialogue sound possibly more rude than I would have interpreted it had I been reading instead of listening.

As for the characters, I do think everyone was being unnecessarily harsh on Isabel for grieving her loss in her own way. I just didn’t see why she was enemy number one once she arrived on Brinkley’s Island. At any rate I had sympathy for both her and Sophie for what they had been through. I loved the “baking library” their mother left, and the whole vibe of the bookstore and the whole island (plus six dogs!) coming to celebrate the opening. This really was a sweet story and I just loved it.

I hope this is available in print someday so I can add it to my personal library.

Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you all have a great long weekend filled with yummy leftovers and cozy reads!

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