Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Jarrell isn’t happy about being a thief, but sometimes it’s the only way he can make ends meet. Broke and alone at Thanksgiving, he breaks into an apartment in a wealthy neighborhood. He’s only looking for cash, but when he spots an unfamiliar book by his favorite author, he impulsively takes the book as well. Reading it, he finds a letter used as a bookmark and realizes the recipient hasn’t finished the book. He decides to return it and accidentally wakes the owner.
Edmond is a shy editor with no family. He’s more excited to have someone to talk to about his favorite author than he is upset about being robbed. He has many more out-of-print books and is willing to lend them in exchange for company. Over a series of late-night discussions Jarrell and Edmond realize they have more in common than their shared love of obscure fantasy novels, including old griefs that they’re both ready to let go of now that they have someone to lean on.
First off, be ready to suspend belief for this holiday tale. But since it is a holiday tale, I was prepared to do so. Jarrell is a thief, yes, but he is a thief with morals. He steals nothing sentimental, never takes from people who can’t afford it, doesn’t take more than he needs. He is honest about himself. “Jarrell Jardine was a thief…Just a guy who swiped loose cash to buy food. He only did it when he couldn’t find honest work in time to keep a roof over his head and he only took money.”
When Jarrell breaks into a old, moneyed apartment he breaks his rule of only taking money when he spies a sequel of a childhood favorite book. His mother had read him the book when he was small and he never forgot it. Jarrell is an avid reader and he can’t resist the call of this book. Then feels guilty because he realizes the owner mustn’t have finished the book. He returns it, only to be faced with Edmond, the very lonely owner of the book. Edmond lives alone in a sort of mausoleum apartment, nothing changed. He has friends and rarely leaves his apartment.
Edmond and Jarrell begin a cautious sort of friendship, based on books. Edmond has a library of books and he begins loaning these to Jarrell, with a promise to return them. Jarrell’s guilt over stealing causes a few kinks at times but he is a good person. And Edmond is just so lonely it’s painful. “Usually I eat alone with a book. Which is fine, but having company would be nice.” The dust on the table made me want to hug Edmond. He is just heartbreaking. And his mother doesn’t deserve word one from him.
They bond, these two very dissimilar men who are really more alike than anything. “If you had said you wanted, I don’t know, something like Agatha Christie but set in a space colony…” He trailed off. Jarrell grinned. “You’re thinking that now you kind of want an Agatha Christie set on a space colony, aren’t you? Me, too.” They are lovely.
Very low angst, this book, focusing more on two lonely men from very diverse backgrounds coming together to be each other’s person. I thought it was a beautiful thing and would recommend this novella.
The cover, showing Jarrell looking at Edmond’s apartment in the snow, is just right.
Sales Links: Amazon