Author: Charlie Lovett
Genre: Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Publication Date: September 22, 2020
Book Description: In 1906 New York City, a trio of young people come together to write a series of children’s books that echo down the generations in unexpected ways.
Robert Parrish’s childhood obsession with series books like the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift inspired him to become an author. Just as his debut novel becomes a bestseller, his relationship with his girlfriend, Rebecca, begins to fall apart. Robert realizes he must confront his secret demons by fulfilling a youthful promise to solve a mystery surrounding his favorite series—the Tremendous Trio.
Guided by twelve tattered books and an unidentified but tantalizing fragment of a story, Robert journeys into the history of the books that changed his life, hoping they can help him once again. His odyssey takes him to 1906 Manhattan, a time of steamboats, boot blacks, and Fifth Avenue mansions, but every discovery he makes only leads to more questions.
Robert’s quest intertwines with the stories of three young people trying to define their places in the world at the dawn of a new and exciting century. Magda, Gene, and Tom not only write the children’s books that Robert will one day love, together they explore the vibrant city on their doorstep, from the Polo Grounds to Coney Island’s Dreamland, drawing the reader into the Gilded Age as their own friendships deepen.
The connections between the authors, their creations, and Robert’s redemptive journey make for a beautifully crafted novel that is an ode to the children’s series books of our past, to New York City, and above all, to the power of love and friendship.
Rating: 4 Stars
Review: I have personally come to really love Charlie Lovett. He writes literary stories about books, what is not love. This is not his usual story about antiquarian books that he typically writes about, but about serial children’s books written in the early twentieth century.
Robert Parrish should be on cloud nine. He has published a best seller, and he is with a woman he adores. However something that has been nagging on him, that is starting to affect him, and in turn his relationship with Rebecca sours. Rebecca takes off and Robert asks for 1 week to start his quest to find more information about the childhood books he loved and the reason he became an author.
The story then moves from almost current times, to the early 1900’s where three aspiring children’s authors meet and each write their own series of books and then collaborate together to bring epic books out with all of their characters.
This book started a little slow for me, but turned into a solid literary mystery. Lovett gives us an education on all things children’s books from that time period. You will adore Robert as he works through solving this mystery so he can move on. Magda, Tom and Gene were ahead of their times, and Lovett did not shy away from some difficult topics that makes the characters stronger.
If you love books about books you will love this one, and if you have not read anything from Charlie Lovett’s backlist, I highly recommend any of his books. You will love getting immersed in the stories he writes.
Thank you NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.