Review of The Bookshop at Water’s End


The Bookshop at Water’s End

Patti Callahan Henry

Berkley Publishing

July 11, 2017

BlurbThe women who spent their childhood summers in a small southern town discover it harbors secrets as lush as the marshes that surround it…

Bonny Blankenship’s most treasured memories are of idyllic summers spent in Watersend, South Carolina, with her best friend, Lainey McKay. Amid the sand dunes and oak trees draped with Spanish moss, they swam and wished for happy-ever-afters, then escaped to the local bookshop to read and whisper in the glorious cool silence. Until the night that changed everything, the night that Lainey’s mother disappeared.
Now, in her early fifties, Bonny is desperate to clear her head after a tragic mistake threatens her career as an emergency room doctor, and her marriage crumbles around her. With her troubled teenage daughter, Piper, in tow, she goes back to the beloved river house, where she is soon joined by Lainey and her two young children. During lazy summer days and magical nights, they reunite with bookshop owner Mimi, who is tangled with the past and its mysteries. As the three women cling to a fragile peace, buried secrets and long ago loves return like the tide.


For as long as I can remember, I have devoured novels set on the Atlantic coast, especially those from the mid-Atlantic and southwards. Patti Callahan Henri is one of the authors that I binged on a few years back, drawn in by her beautiful rhythmic writing, her vision and prowess to put forth truths in difficult situations, and her characters’ ability to discover themselves amidst this beautiful landscape.

So I was very happy to pick up another of her novels and it fit so well landscape-wise with where I am on vacation at the moment. The story is engrossing merging mystery and drama and tears.

The Bookshop at Water’s End is a novel about a trio of women trying to find their paths: Bonny because she’s spent years in a failed marriage and now has a mistake that may cost her the only job she’s ever wanted; Lainey who has never stopped looking for her mother who disappeared the summer she was thirteen; and Piper who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere because, in her own perception, she is always at fault for everything.

While The Bookshop at Water’s End has a bevy of platitudes among its insights, it’s the heart of this novel that is worth exploring, how an outcome might not have an intended result, but rather one that is needed. And, the writing in this novel is some of the best that you will find in women’s fiction.

The point at which we, the readers, leave Bonny’s life holds some dissatisfaction for me because it seems that even throughout all of the struggles in the novel, Bonny isn’t able to make an adjustment to contemplate a gray situation rather than just a black and white one. I guess I like to see characters make an attempt to have it all, whatever “it all” may entail even if it’s sometimes just a small thing.

This felt like a perfect novel to read on a hot summer’s day with a coastal breeze swishing through the pine. I’ll look forward to Patti Callahan Henry’s next novel.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

From AmazonThe Bookshop at Water’s End

rating: 4-and-a-half

4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.