A Very Special Year – Thomas Montasser

Review published on May 25, 2016.

Anyone involved with a reading group should take note of this title. It’s a book about the joy of reading and the exploration of books. It’s short, accessible and would stimulate much conversation.

Valerie, a business student, arrives to wind up her aunt’s small bookshop, after she has mysteriously disappeared. Over the course of the year Valerie becomes less sure about closing down the shop as she gets drawn into the world of books. Referencing a range of titles from across the world, German author and literary agent Montasser, in this translation by Jamie Bulloch, provides us with a whole wealth of titles and authors we might want to explore.

There’s not a lot to the plot. Valerie spends much of the year drinking tea from an old samovar and exploring the books, occasionally fretting over balance sheets and attempting to find ways to keep the shop afloat. Fittingly, as this is a book about the magic of books, there is the odd touch of magic. There is the title that fizzles into nothing after a few pages which becomes such a desirable purchase for one handsome purchaser; encounters with a rodent and the discovery that Aunt Charlotte also had a secret life behind the book counter.

It’s quirky and perhaps a little over-whimsical at times for this reader but I did find myself being pulled in by the power and beauty of books and is a reminder why this reading ‘thing’ is so important to all of us and why booksellers and their shops should be cherished.

Phil Ramage
Personal 3
Group 5

A Very Special Year – Thomas Montasser
Oneworld 9781780748665 pbk June 2016

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