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The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald (2013) French title : La bibliothèque des cœurs cabossés. Translated from the Swedish by Carine Buy.

As mentioned in my previous billet about The Duck Hunt by Hugo Claus, after reading A Cool Million and the said Duck Hunt, I was in dire need of a feel-good novel. So during a visit to a bookstore, I got myself The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.

The blurb is made for bookworms. Sara Lindqvist is twenty-eight years old and lives in Haninge, a small town in Sweden. She’s a book lover and started a correspondence with Amy, another booklover who lives in Broken Wheel, Iowa. They’ve been discussing books and life for two years when the bookshop where Sara works goes belly up. Amy convinces the now unemployed Sara to come and stay with her for a few weeks. Sara organizes her trip but when she arrives in Broken Wheel, it’s the day of Amy’s funeral. What to do now?

She decides to stay and gets acquainted with the villagers, an odd bunch of people who stayed in their declining hometown. Broken Wheel progressively lost its inhabitants, then its school and the buildings on Main Street have lost their luster. It’s now a sleepy town that will wake up with the arrival of this foreigner who decides to use Amy’s books to set up a bookstore on Main Street. Sara wants to use Amy’s library to convert Broken Wheel to literature.


Lucky me, I read this at a time when my tolerance for approximate prose and clichéd characters was exceptionally high. I’m so tired after work that I welcomed the reprieve. I finished it despite its 500 pages, its nice but unreal characters, the description of corn fields and the tepid plot. It says a lot about my fatigue.

Conclusion: Two years of correspondence between Sara and Amy and yet for me, nothing to write home about. I do enjoy fluffy books from time to time but this one wasn’t good enough. Good fluff is hard to write too.

Other review: Claire from Word by Word read it too and is more positive than I am about it. Her review is here.

  1. June 15, 2017 at 8:46 am

    It sounds as if this would have made a good short story, but 500 pages is quite a stretch! Like you, I enjoy a lighthearted read every now and again. Nevertheless, as you quite rightly point out, these fluffy stories are hard to pull off effectively.


    • June 15, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      I enjoy lighthearted books too. They’re entertaining and sometimes that’s all I need.
      This one was disappointing, that’s all.


  2. June 15, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    I was going to try it, but now that I have read your review, I’ll pass. Just (finally) read The Little Paris Bookshop. It started really well and then became so disappointing


    • June 15, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      I checked out The Little Paris Bookshop and it sounds a bit cliché too. I bet its follow up will be set in a quaint village in Provence.
      Anyway, we bookworms can’t help it: we’re attracted to books about books, bookstores and book lovers ☺


  3. June 15, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    There isn’t enough in this plot to sustain a book of 500 pages. And how come after they have been corresponding for two years Sara only discovers her friend has died when she gets to Broken Wheel? Not realistic is it


    • June 15, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      Amy didn’t tell Sara that she was ill and when Sara arrives, Amy had just died. This part didn’t bother me.
      I wish that Sara were not shy, buried in books and a sort of social misfit. I’m sick of this cliché about readers.
      It’s a miracle that she doesn’t fall in love with another cliché, the shy accountant in love with Excel spreadsheet and dressed like a scarecrow.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. ericarobyn
    June 18, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    Oh no! So sorry this was a miss for you. I totally understand why it wasn’t a hit for you. I was the total opposite; I LOVED this book! I thought it was such a fun and light read. This is exactly my type of romance books. 🙂


    • June 18, 2017 at 9:50 pm

      I can see its appeal but it just didn’t work for me. When romance is involved, I’m picky.


  5. June 19, 2017 at 3:03 am

    I know I wouldn’t like this. Although I understand how some novels appeal at more times than others. And yes, you must have been exhausted.


    • June 19, 2017 at 9:42 pm

      You wouldn’t like this AT ALL.
      I’m still exhausted.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. June 25, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    I was lucky it is only 400 pages in English. I read it because of the title (the French title on the other hand wouldn’t have appealed to me), but was very disappointed just like you. Even though Katarina Bivald says she is very much like Sara, I could not get past the blatant fact that she had never been to Iowa and tried to write a novel à la Fannie Flagg (who is one of my favorite authors). Not a total waste of time, but pretty close.


    • June 25, 2017 at 9:28 pm

      Books always have more pages in French, because of the language itself (it takes more words to say the same thing) and because paperback pages are smaller.
      I hesitated because of the title but since it was recommended by libraires, I gave it a go.
      I didn’t know she’d never been to Iowa but I thought that the descriptions came out of the film The Bridges of Madison County.

      In the vegetable department, it was closer to pealing potatoes than to making fried green tomatoes.


  7. July 5, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    The title already puts me off to be honest. Otherwise, whether 400 or 500 that’s far too many pages for light fiction.

    Interesting that the author wrote a book set in Iowa without ever going there. I appreciate it’s not intended to be a book about description and atmosphere but what’s the point of setting it in Iowa if you have no idea what it’s like?


    • July 6, 2017 at 1:40 pm

      I think it’s too long too but to be honest, it’s so light that it’s a three-pages-count-for-one kind of deal.

      I don’t know why she picked Iowa and to be honest, I didn’t research it. My guess is the Maddison County film.


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