Betty T. (Warner Robins, GA)
The Witless Fox
I began reading this book with great enthusiasm which was quickly dampened. The first part of the book is very slow and quite boring. She lives a high stress life in Los Angeles that she wants to escape. Then she takes off for Scotland on a whim. Okay, that I can relate to. I've done similar trips.
The bookshop sounds delightful (for those of us who LOVE the physical books.) Wigtown is quaint with pleasant people. She was warmly welcomed. A romance blossomed between Jessica and Euan, the shop owner.
It was fun to read of the cultural differences -- Brazil wax, anyone? I'm sure Jessica hurt for a few days after trying to remove the wax. And the party where the local townspeople were told to "dress American", so most of them came with pillows and cushions stuffed into their clothing so they would be "fat Americans". Jessica learned quickly that in that little town, if one person knew something everyone would very shortly know it. But they were all supportive of each other.
What really kind of bothered me was that Jessica, 25 years old, seemed to just kind of drift. She really didn't pay much attention to details, such as visa details. She also seemed to let Euan by with quite a bit. Yes, he was a really nice guy to everyone but she didn't draw any lines. But then she was on a visa living with him. And Euan has a fairly passive personality meaning he has problems making a decision. There's the usual ups and downs of a relationship. But there's the added problems of cultural differences and visa complications. You are never really sure how it will work it.
If, like me, you are curious as to how The Bookshop looks (after all, it says it is so huge), check out the following link. http://jessicafox.info/
Karen M. (Great Falls, VA)
I was smitten with this book from the moment I read the prologue until I finished it many hours later. But first, let me warn what the book is not. It's not about working at NASA or rocket ships. It's not about a young woman making documentaries in Hollywood. I don't even think it is chick lit. And I got the impression before I read it that it was all of these things.
This is a true story of a twenty-something woman who is bright, successful, driven, well-educated, independent and prone to not stay in one place. She goes to brunch with friends in LA, she rides her bike, she is impeccably organized, and meditates. For over a year, she has seen the same vision in her meditations. It appears to be a quaint second-hand bookstore in Britain? Possibly Scotland? She's never been there. But, she is a fan of Joseph Campbell's many works on mythology and believes in the Hero's Journey. She wonders if, somehow, this repeating image is a clue for her to follow. When a woman appears in the bookstore window she believes that there is a passing resemblance to her. Is this bookshop her Destiny?
Faster than a speeding bullet, she takes action. She decides to search the internet for the bookstore. Wonderfully, she finds it in a small town in Scotland where an annual literary festival will be starting soon. She emails them and asks to volunteer at the festival in exchange for a room to live in. She takes a long vacation from her job, despite the fact it's not a good time for her to go away, and heads off to follow her intuition. This act alone takes great courage and I could not wait to read how such a leap of faith was answered.
Half way through the book, I lost some of my fascination with Ms. Fox and her journey. She hits rough waters and her impatience and insecurities are revealed. Every Hero hits this challenge, but I found it hard to believe that the brave feisty woman at the beginning of the book could become such a dramatic childish wreck. Of course, in Homer's The Odyssey, we followed the Hero and his shipmates as they floundered and failed repeatedly in their efforts to reach their home. Jason and the Argonauts was a very similar story. Unfortunately, I have to admit, I was ready to give up on Ms. Fox much sooner than I did in the other stories. Perhaps because she was also the monster???
I would recommend this book to those of us who love nothing better than a dusty old bookstore and the people who work there. To those of us who love the mythology we've read from the time we were young. To those of us who enjoy unique unusual eccentric characters in our novels. To those of us who want to believe that if we follow our bliss, our life will be all the better for the risks we have taken. Finally, this book is for readers who would like a true story that proves that despite all forms of mistakes and adversity in our lives, we can still have growth and a happy ever after.
Barbara C. (Riverside, CA)
Not what I expected!
I read the book in two big gulps! How can a bibliophile resist a book about a bookstore. However, the bookstore was only the setting for much of the story, but the actual memoir was really on a different topic. I have to be careful not to reveal too much, but I highly recommend it. Jessica was quite the risk taker. And so was Euan. I need to know what happened next. The book was already published in the UK.
Peggy H. (North East, PA)
Eat, Pray, Love for the younger generation
I really loved this book! I couldn't put it down...and I probably wouldn't have had the same feeling if I hadn't know that it was factual.
I think everyone in their life has a dream; to most of us it only remains a dream or a regret. That is why there is so much pleasure in reading someone who is impulsive, and flies across the ocean because of a whim and a feeling.
The writing is very expressive and picturesque, it brings the small town in Scotland to life like a Mitford or the Cornwall of the Doc Marten series.
Robin M. (Newark, DE)
Rockets is a Roller Coaster Ride of Emotions
I was intrigued by the description of this book. My father worked for NASA for over 30 years so I just had to read it. I was expecting something with a little more technical meat, but Fox won me over almost immediately with her beautiful prose and an engaging story, which was sometimes so whimsical, so comical and so close to experiences of my family and friends that I alternated between having trouble believing it was a memoir and finding it almost an echo of the lives of friends or family.
So I just let myself read and enjoy the experience of Jessica's memories. Her writing is beautiful. She describes her locations so well one could nearly paint them. The story is engaging from the beginning. It was easy to get caught up in Fox's life with its interesting job, fun friends and sorry romances. The new romance tugs at the reader, too and pulled me up and down as it grew and struggled and grew again.
I love reading and books, and reading a book that is even loosely about books is always fun. The Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets is a winner! I thought I would pass it on to my NASA father, but I think I will share it with my romantic mom instead.
Lee M. (Creve Coeur, MO)
Rockets or Romance
A sweet (do authors cringe at this description) thoroughly enjoyable book. A little slow starting hence a 4 instead of 5. No lurid sex, no violence and no phony drama, just a solid story and fantastic descriptions of Scotland's scenery and residents. You sense a knowledgeable author. Is twenty-six too old to experience a "coming of age" story? I think not, as this book soundly proves.
Anne M. (Austin, TX)
Don't waste your time
This is one of the worst-written books I have ever read -- the "prose" is overwrought and the "action" it's supposedly non-fiction is pretty much non-existent. I don't know if Jessica Fox's movies actually get made or distributed, but if so, I don't know how.
The book is the story of her "meet-cute" with a bookshop owner in Scotland, and the resulting "relationship" that develops from her month-long stay after she essentially invites herself "working" at the shop. No idea how Euan stands her nor she him: both of them are the biggest passive-aggressive types I've ever read about. Save your money and time and don't bother.