When Ben Palermo inherits his uncle’s bookstore, he has a secure career and a built-in home, but he doesn’t have contentment. As Ben looks ahead to the next chapter of his life, some well-meaning customers scheme to keep him in town by finding him a proper wife—on their terms.
The moment author and illustrator Rosemary Berg walks into his store, Ben is captivated. She is overwhelmed by his disarming charm and eerie familiarity—but can she trust him? Or should she turn instead to an old friend who is finally ready to claim her heart? (Summary from Concordia Publishing House)
After multiple false starts owing to my lethargy, I finally found the resolve to start reading this debut book by Heather Kaufman. The first few chapters were a bit slow paced before the novel actually took off. Ben Palermo, the protagonist, leads a relatively simple life in the small town of New Holden. He had arrived here temporarily following his uncle Louie’s death, but soon finds himself drawn into this quagmire of small town life. Without revealing it, this temporary option becomes permanent and he finds it hard to move out. Ben is in a perpetual dilemma whether to retain the store and keep all the memories with it intact or to sell and move on with his life. Though surrounded by the well-meaning people of New Holden, he still feels lonely and lacks companionship with only his dog JC to give him company.
Mrs. Gardner, a chirpy and impulsive busy body who is also an ultimate romantic, along with her senior friends gang (the stern Mrs. Frank and the pushover Mrs. Baumgartner) provides immense comic relief in this book. The trio is saddened by Ben’s single life and they hatch a plan to help him find his soul mate. Their elaborate plans for finding Ben a suitable match ends in utter failure when the girls in their mind are totally unsuitable for Ben. This makes for a lot of situational comedy in the book that will leave us in splits.
Ben’s life changes when Rosemary walks into his life. An artist, she has come to New Holden to care for her sick grandmother. Ben instantly connects with Rosemary and tries to woo her subtly. Everything goes for a toss thanks to the various misunderstandings and elaborately tailored one sided “dates” set up by Mrs. Gardner and gang. Rosemary is a simple and shy girl who is reserved and guarded due to a complicated childhood. Although Ben pierces her guards, Rosemary has to learn to trust and be vulnerable for love to find her.
The titular Story People are also a very significant part of the novel. These fictional characters forge together a connection between the minds of the children who imagine them. These characters, although for a small duration, gives them respite from the harsh realities of life. This childhood bond stays forever in the hearts of these children. The last few chapters too deal with the representation of the story people and its transition from being an idea to a reality. This journey is beautiful and the author has given a peek into the working of the artists mind. This is the most interesting part of the book in addition to the humorous character of Mrs. Gardner.
Through Rosemary, Kaufman puts forward ideas of children’s book that are really unique in concept. The first book published by Rosemary is Spectrum which tells a beautiful story of books, ideas and colours. The children’s book inspired from story people will also be no doubt wonderful. It would be really great to actually see these imaginative books transitioned to reality as children’s story book.
Overall, The Story People is a simple story with uncomplicated characters who do not have any dark shades and spreads positivity around. This is a comedy of errors about lonely hearts finding each other. Readers who are fans of light romantic comedies will definitely enjoy this read. It is also a refreshing book that will lift your spirits and bring a smile on your face. Heather Kaufman’s debut book is very promising and I shall be looking forward to other books from her.
Favourite Character : Mrs. Gardner
Favourite Quote : “After all, a room is just a room until it is made alive by imagination. And a book is just a book until it is opened and loved.”
I received this book through NetGalley for review and this has not influenced my opinion about the book.