cover image The Book Swap

The Book Swap

Tessa Bickers. Graydon House, $27.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5258-3670-1

Bickers debuts with a fresh tale of two lonely hearts connected by their love of reading. Thirty-year-old Erin Connolly accidentally donates a heavily annotated copy of her favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird, to a community library hutch near her London flat. Making matters worse, the book held a treasured postcard from her childhood best friend, Bonnie, who died of cancer three years earlier. Browsing the hutch a few days after dropping off the novel, Erin is surprised to find it returned, with more notes, prompting her to become pen pals with her “Mystery Man” via marginalia in other books. A parallel narrative follows James, the author of the notes, who’s desperate to keep Erin writing and worried she’ll stop if she finds out who he is—an old friend from their school days who betrayed her to get his bullies off his case. The crisis point occurs when Erin returns home for the anniversary of Bonnie’s death and has a run-in with James. The will-they-or-won’t-they plot hews closely to a rom-com structure, and the setup is a bit heavy-handed, but Bickers charms in her depiction of how James and Erin bond through literature, and how literature changes their lives. This will have bookworms swooning. Agent: Jemima Forrester, David Higham Assoc. (Sept.)