Have you ever given up on love?
When her boyfriend lets her down for the last time, Brooklyn bookshop owner Bea James makes a decision – no more. No more men, no more heartbreak, and no more pain.
Psychiatrist Jake Steinmann is making a new start too, leaving his broken marriage behind in San Francisco. From now on there'll just be one love in his life: New York.
At a party where they seem to be the only two singletons, Bea and Jake meet, and decide there’s just one thing for it. They will make a pact: no more relationships.
But the city has other plans...
Today it's my turn with an interview with central character Bea...
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself Bea?
I live and work in Brooklyn, although I'm originally from Northbridge in Shropshire, England. I own a bookstore with my best friend Russ - it's been a dream of ours since we met at Columbia University and we've been trading now for three years. I have red hair and green eyes and Russ tells me I a great friend (although that might have more to do with the fact that I'm paying for Chinese food next time we have a Friday night takeaway!) Oh, and I'm done with relationships. Nobody believes me (my friend Imelda and brother Stewart insist it's a phase). But I mean it this time. I'm going to concentrate on the things that matter - being happy, enjoying my life and loving my city - and save myself the heartache and stress...
Did you always want to work with books?
Yes, always! My Grandma owns a bookshop back in England - Severnside Books in Ironbridge - and as a little girl I wanted to live there! I adore books. I feel calmer and happier when I'm surrounded by them. There's something magical about disappearing into a world an author has created. And owning a bookstore is like being a curator of many worlds. It's a privilege to work with books and both Russ and I are passionate about what we do.
What is it that you love most about running your own bookstore?
I love working with books all day and seeing my customers meet new friends between the pages. I suppose Hudson River Books - my bookstore - is a bit like a dating agency and travel agency combined: we introduce our customers to new friends and send them off on amazing new adventures!
I love the community we're in, too. We're on 8th Avenue in Brooklyn and we're surrounded by quirky, independent businesses. My friend Imelda owns a craft-and-coffee shop a few blocks away - you wouldn't find something like that in Manhattan. I love that we have loyal customers who trust us to find their next read for them.
Also - and please don't tell anyone I said this because they already think I'm a crazy Englishwoman - sometimes I arrive early at the bookshop before Russ, sit on one of our beanbag seats in the children's book section and just listen. It's like I can hear the voices of the stories all around me, as if the books are impatiently chatting as they wait for someone to take them home... It's a magical place to work and I feel so lucky to be doing what I love.
What is your all-time favourite book that you always recommend to customers?
Oh, there are so many! That's the problem with loving books - you feel wrong just picking one in case the others are offended... OK, if I had to pick just one it would be Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I love the idea of there being an unseen world existing alongside the world we see. I've recommended it to so many customers and everyone has loved the story.
As New York is your adopted city, can you recommend a couple of places to visit for someone who has never visited your city before?
There are so many wonderful places! For me, I always start at Central Park. It's beautiful at any time of the year and perfect for people-watching. At Christmas, you HAVE to go skating on the Wollman Rink - it's magical to be floating across the ice at night surrounded by the darkened park and the lights of New York all around you. Of course, I blame my slight obsession with the film Serendipity for this...
I'd also say go to a proper New York deli and have an enormous Reuben sandwich. It was the first New York food thing on my list when I arrived in the city as a seventeen-year-old student. And definitely visit a bookstore (or three!) There are some fantastic bookshops in the West Village - I could wander around them for hours, even though I work in Hudson River Books all day!