Review: ‘Book Lovers’ is a romance fueled by quick jokes

“Book Lovers” by Emily Henry (Berkley)

If Emily Henry gets laughed at the character’s dialogue in her own books, that’s understandable. She is a master of witty repartee.

In his latest novel, “Book Lovers”, Henry features Nora Stephens and Charlie Lafra. Nora is a literary agent and Charlie is a book publisher. The two meet once about a potential book Charlie might edit and both make a bad impression. Minutes before, Nora had been dumped by her boyfriend on the phone. She arrives late and Charlie is grumpy. He is also not a fan of the book Nora presents, calling it “unreadable”. The two debate the book and part ways. Is this the last of Nora and Charlie? Of course not, but you have to read to find out what happens next.

“Book Lovers” is not only a romantic love story, but also a love story between two sisters, Nora and her younger sister, Libby, which she places above all else. Their mother died years before, and Nora has felt overprotective of Libby ever since and wants to work out all of her issues (much to Libby’s chagrin). When a heavily pregnant Libby says she wants to get away for a few weeks and visit Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, a quaint little town she’s heard of, Nora naturally says yes.

Just about every Hallmark movie — and many romance novels — feature a big-city protagonist who finds himself in a small town where he learns about himself, what he wants in life, and, of course, , find love. While “Book Lovers” has that storyline, it also deconstructs it. Nora makes no apologies for working hard and not wanting children of her own. She does not seek to change her habits or her lifestyle.

The only confusing thing about Henry’s books isn’t really about Henry’s writing, it’s about Hollywood. Why has no one picked up one of his stories for an adaptation? Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy have made nine films together, fueled by their chemistry and banter. It’s a safe bet that viewers would love to see Henry’s characters come to life on screen.

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