Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Moment of Everything by Shelly King

The Moment of Everything* * * * * 

In the tradition of The Cookbook Collector comes a funny, romantic novel about a young woman finding her calling while saving a used bookstore.

Maggie Duprès, recently "involuntarily separated from payroll" at a Silicon Valley start-up, is whiling away her days in The Dragonfly's Used Books, a Mountain View institution, waiting for the Next Big Thing to come along.

When the opportunity arises for her to network at a Bay Area book club, she jumps at the chance -- even if it means having to read Lady Chatterley's Lover, a book she hasn't encountered since college, in an evening. But the edition she finds at the bookstore is no Penguin Classics Chatterley -- it's an ancient hardcover with notes in the margins between two besotted lovers of long ago. What Maggie finds in her search for the lovers and their fate, and what she learns about herself in the process, will surprise and move readers.

Witty and sharp-eyed in its treatment of tech world excesses, but with real warmth at its core, The Moment of Everything is a wonderful read.


Sometimes stories just kind of sneak up on you.  I knew I would probably enjoy this book.  But I was not prepared for how much I was going to love it. 

Our story begins with Maggie and her landlord, Hugo, sitting in the only two chairs in Hugo’s used bookstore, The Dragonfly.  Here were learn that Maggie is unemployed and instead of spending hours on hours searching for a new job, she is spending hours on hours reading romance novels, hanging with Hugo and barely tolerating his employee, Jason (who is none too amused that Maggie is hogging that other chair). 

Maggie’s best friend, Dizzy, is only interested in the next big thing.  He’s happy going from position to position and company to company.  And he’s more than happy to have Maggie along for the ride.  After all, they’ve been conquering Silicon Valley together since they left college.  So when he hears that a number of execs at his current company (the one that he and Maggie started up) have a book club and have room for a couple new members, he convinces Maggie to join.  This will be the perfect networking opportunity since Maggie’s college degree is in literature and she can wow them with her knowledge.  Well, she does wow them.  Just not necessarily with her degree.  Because the copy of Lady Chatterly’s Lover that Hugo found for her in the bookshop is filled with notes from two lovers.  And those notes are what help her engage the book group and then spur Maggie’s unconventional project meant to impress and convince them to give her job back.

Using the intensely romantic notes written by Henry and Catherine in that old beat up copy of Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Maggie embarks on a campaign to make The Dragonfly a successful money making venture.  As much as Hugo hates The Man, he allows Maggie to use his store to further her career opportunities.   You can tell he sees possibility in Maggie’s quest.  Not the possibility of making money but the possibility of Maggie finding something she really loves. 

Maggie grew up in a home where she felt unloved and emotionally neglected.  It didn’t help that every moment of her mother’s day was planned in advance to make Maggie’s father (her greatest love) happy.  Needless to say, Maggie has a dysfunctional and complicated view of love.  Her experience is that it is controlling and that it asks too much of people.  But through the friends she makes while promoting The Dragonfly she learns that “for a love big enough, the sacrifices aren’t sacrifices,” and the complications can be worth it.

I loved so much about this story.  The irreverent humor towards technology and corporations that only someone with experience could write and understand.  Hugo’s many relationships.  Rajith and Maggie’s romance that was not the focus of the story but was still absolutely essential in the telling of it.  The beautiful and affirming words whispered in Maggie’s ear by someone close to her.  I won’t tell you who or what because spoilers…but I will say that the words and the situation made me cry a decent amount of tears. 

The Moment of Everything left me with a feeling of rightness.  I kept thinking, “This.  This is what I want my life to be.”  Okay, maybe not EXACTLY like in the book.  I mean, I’m not willing to trade in my Executive Officer for a Rajith (not because Rajith doesn’t have a certain appeal because, trust me, he most certainly does).  But what I loved was Maggie’s inadvertent search for love and fulfillment and how and where she finds those things. 

This book also left me with a fun to do list:

  • Read Lady Chatterley’s Lover
  • Buy a vintage bike
  • Find more used book stores
  • Eat some ramen for the sake of nostalgia
  • Spend hours visiting thrift shops and used books store so I can scour the pages of ancient books for secret messages from secret lovers
  • Buy and run a used bookstore

Now to just find the time….

If you are look for a beautiful and fulfilling story about a woman searching for love in all aspects of her life then I highly recommend you pick up The Moment of Everything by Shelly King.


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