” Bookstores are romantic creatures. They seduce you with their wares and break your heart with their troubles. All great readers fantasize about owning one. They think spending a day around all these books will be great fulfillment of their passion. ” (Ch.16, p.266)
The Moment of Everything really caught me off guard. The first impression is that it’s a feel-good type of chick-lit featuring a young man who is out of luck with her start-up company in Silicon Valley. Fresh out of a busted relationship, now laid off, Maggie Dupres is between jobs. With the meager savings, she cuts all her expenses, and whiles away her day at Dragonfly, a neighborhood bookstore of used books—cheap and tattered. The owner, Hugo, is a kind-hearted romantic in his late fifties who is not interested in making money. He lets her sit around all day without ever expecting her to buy anything.
There was no perfect love or even a perfect book. But I had a life I loved at the Dragonfly and I wanted to be tethered to it. I wanted to suffer the bad times and feel joy at the good. (Ch.15, p.257)
A chance of networking, in the form of a book club, leads her to a woman who has money, power, and connections. She would curry her favor and hopes to get a job. The copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover she has, fragile with wear and warped, a gift from Hugo at Dragonfly, has notes that see her through the discussion. But she finds more than notes scribbled on margins—a magical conversation between two people, Henry and Catherine, who left notes to each other in this bookstore copy. When she tries to find them, she finds instead answers to questions she didn’t know she had—questions about love, and the right place in life. In proving herself to the potential investors, she pours herself to Dragonfly, turning the shabby hole-in-a-wall into a profitable business. But in doing this, Maggie realizes life is more than commercial success and money. Dragonfly has influenced her with its human touch, with the many relationship Hugo cultivates. For the first time in life she finds herself without the things she had taken for granted.
They were in a constant search for that one, that special book that would satisfy their desire for mind-blowing plots, jaw-dropping wizardry, and emotional knife-twisting all at once. (Ch. 7, p.149)
King has written an ode to bookstores and to readers. Her story has a touch of serendipity, justifying book-lovers and readers’ endless browsing at the bookstores for their endearing reads. The beauty of used bookstore is that they are layered with history, because books have been through many hands and move on to others. King’s writing is so vivid, realistic, at times snarky, that it is easy to see the shelves and smell the books. Throughout the pages she finds the balance between emotional topics like friendship, family issues, finding one’s calling, and love.
274 pp. Grand Central Publishing. Paper. [Read|Skim|Toss] [Buy|Borrow]