After losing her mother on her 18th birthday, Rosemary Savage arrives in 1970s New York with nothing more than $300 and a burning need to find something to fill the void. She winds up at the Arcade, a spralling used bookstore characterized by piles of books, acquisitive customers, and eccentric employees. As Rosemary tries to adjust to life away from her native Tasmania, she finds herself drawn into an intrigue surrounding a lost novel by Herman Melville.
The mystery element of this story was the weakest part in my opinion- the storyline was neither compelling nor convincing, and too many unanswered questions remained unanswered at the end of the book. Regardless, the beautiful prose was enough to carry this weak story from start to finish. The portraits of the characters were deftly drawn, and I truly felt the pain of Rosemary's extreme naiveté and her awkward relationships with Oscar and Mr. Geist. The writing is lyrical and dense, a festival for the eyes and brain that called to mind another novel of literary discovery- The Thirteenth Tale. Though I wish the details of the mystery had been more fully fleshed, I highly recommend this book for the power of the writing alone.
Passion for the Page