Natalie Harper grew up around books: “When she was very small, her mother used to tell her that books were alive in a special way. Between the covers, characters were living their lives, enacting their dramas, falling in and out of love, finding trouble, working out their problems. Even sitting closed on a shelf, a book had a life of its own. When someone opened the book, that was when the magic happened.”

In The Lost and Found Bookshop (William Morrow), author Susan Wiggs invites her readers to step inside a small, independent bookshop where “floor-to-ceiling shelves [are] accessed by rolling ladders with brass fittings,” and rare, aging tomes have been displayed respectfully in glass cases. It’s the shop every book lover dreams of exploring, but for Blythe Harper’s daughter, Natalie, who ran from the financially unstable family business, it’s a dangerous land to tread.

After the sudden and tragic death of her mother, successful wine sales executive Natalie must leave beautiful Sonoma and return to San Francisco when she inherits her mother’s bookshop, enormous debts and the care of her ailing grandfather, whom she calls Grandy. Her plan was simple: sell the business and the building, relocate Grandy to Sonoma and go back to her stable career in sales. Grandy has other plans. He still owns the building and won’t consent to selling, insisting that Natalie keep Blythe’s shop and the building’s other treasures alive.

Now, Natalie must commit to keeping the business afloat in an age where everyone shops online, in a city too expensive for comfort and in a building with an endless list of needed repairs. As Natalie sorts through the chaotic mess her mother left behind, she can’t help but wonder how her mother, as financially underwater as she was, could manage to be so happy. Blythe “lived for the shop, and although it had pounded her into debt, she had been beloved and connected in ways that had nothing to do with security” — the one thing Natalie has always so desperately desired.

The more time Natalie spends in the charming bookshop, the more she realizes that the stability she’d been chasing all these years could never grant her the kind of happiness her mother seemed to have achieved while struggling to share her passion for books with the world. Perhaps her mother’s chaotic way of living wasn’t as foolish as she’d always believed.

Natalie isn’t sure what will become of the shop without the woman who “never failed to find the exact-right perfect book.” And she certainly can’t predict what will become of her own life without Blythe, but with help from a few new friends who seem to understand the unique magic of her mother’s bookshop, she may just uncover those hidden treasures Grandy’s been talking about.

Enchanting and cozy, Wiggs reminds us of the boundless joy to be had and endless lives to be lived when we turn the pages in a book.

Readers who enter The Lost and Found Bookshop will discover a place where family can be found behind the desk, in the upstairs apartment or nestled somewhere among the imperfectly charming shelves, and the grandest of adventures patiently wait to begin between the covers of the next book they open.


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Photo: Yvonne Wong Photography

Susan Wiggs’s life is all about family, friends … and fiction. She lives at the water’s edge on an island in Puget Sound, and in good weather, she commutes to her writers’ group in a 21-foot motorboat. She’s been featured in the national media, including NPR, PRI and USA Today, has given programs for the US Embassies in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, and is a popular speaker locally, nationally, internationally and on the high seas.

From the very start, her writings have illuminated the everyday dramas of ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. Her books celebrate the power of love, the timeless bonds of family and the fascinating nuances of human nature. Today, she is an international bestselling, award-winning author, with millions of copies of her books in print in numerous countries and languages.

The author is a former teacher, a Harvard graduate, an avid hiker, an amateur photographer, a good skier and terrible golfer, yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book.