"Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast"

Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast by Bill Richardson

Finally, a Canadian book that isn't all darkness and angst and swearing. Ok there are a couple of swear words but overall this is a wonderful book. 

Hector and Virgil (who in my mind is the spitting image of the authour) are middle-aged twin brothers who have turned the house they grew up in into a bed and breakfast on Canada's west coast. The brothers are book lovers who see their home as a retreat for readers. Their guests are welcome to use the brothers' well-stocked library or to bring their own books with them. They cater to people like themselves, the "gentle and bookish and ever so slightly confused". That description alone had me hooked before I even started reading.

There is no plot, just a casual revealing of the brother's personalities and personal lives and the daily routines of the B&B. I have no objection to a good plot, but a book that is character driven has a much better chance of ending up on my "favorite reads" list and this is completely character driven. These endearing and oh-so-humanly flawed brothers move quietly into your world and make you wish they and their reader's retreat were real.

The chapters are written alternately by Hector and Virgil with letters from guests in between. Hector and Virgil write about their lives as innkeepers, their pasts and each other. The guest's letters tell their own stories and fill in details about the setting and the experience of being the brother's guests.

The lovely old house, the surroundings and the simple lifestyle the brothers offer their guests is nothing short of delicious. Reading the book is getting away for a quiet weekend, relaxing and comforting with enough humour to keep it fresh. Amazingly (because it happens often with books like this) it never becomes trite or even worse, cute. The brothers are quite realistic and that makes them all the more appealing.

The cover says "This quiet charmer is a bibliophiles delight" and that's exactly what it is. Other cover quotes say "a funny, cozy tale" and "a whimsically gentle fiction". I couldn't argue with those descriptions either, though the word "cozy" is dangerously close to "cute" and is recklessly overused in describing fiction. I love this book and I love it's witty, intelligent language. I was sorry to come to the last chapter but fortunately there is a sequel. It's called "Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast Pillow Book". A somewhat odd title, but hopefully it will be as good as this one was.


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