The Bookshop at Water’s End

By Patti Callahan Henry

ISBN: 9780399583117

Author’s Website:

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Omar               



The women who spent their childhood summers in a small southern town discover it harbors secrets as lush as the marshes that surround it…

Bonny Blankenship’s most treasured memories are of idyllic summers spent in Watersend, South Carolina, with her best friend, Lainey McKay. Amid the sand dunes and oak trees draped with Spanish moss, they swam and wished for happy-ever-afters, then escaped to the local bookshop to read and whisper in the glorious cool silence. Until the night that changed everything, the night that Lainey’s mother disappeared.

Now, in her early fifties, Bonny is desperate to clear her head after a tragic mistake threatens her career as an emergency room doctor, and her marriage crumbles around her. With her troubled teenage daughter, Piper, in tow, she goes back to the beloved river house, where she is soon joined by Lainey and her two young children. During lazy summer days and magical nights, they reunite with bookshop owner Mimi, who is tangled with the past and its mysteries. As the three women cling to a fragile peace, buried secrets and long ago loves return like the tide.


Life throws us many curveballs, and to Bonny Blankenship the last one just shatters her life. While her life hasn’t been good in the last couple of years, recently everything was going right, she was just offered a new job in a different city and her daughter was in college, until the night of major car accident. That day her E.R. was full, she had overworked, and a person from her past show up injured. That day Bonny made a mistake that cause the life of one of her patients and her new life; now everything is falling apart, she is still leaving her husband, but her safety measures are gone, and she only has her half-renew family summer house to go while the medical investigation is resolved. She has asked her best friend Lainey and her daughter, Piper, to be with her at Water’s End, South Carolina for the summer.

The only problem is that almost forty years ago, Lainey’s mom despaired from the Water’s End summer house, and was never seen again. Now that Bonny is digging up the past and reopening old wounds, she needs to face with the consequences of her actions, the feelings for her first love, and the need to fix her life, all while getting the summer house ready for sell.

I liked this story, I liked the aspects of being a story of more women who come together, and heal their pains and find each other again. I also liked the use of time jumps and how they plan them to be scattered across the different time line, and the only appeared when the story needed it.

It was interesting to go over the life of Bonny and to learn how she came to be the person that she is at the beginning of the story.  Most of all, I liked the journey that Bonny took to work through the problems and emotional stress that originated from her mistake that caused the death of her patient. Bonny went through a lot to find her real self again and give purpose to her life goal of been a doctor to help people. I believed that it was good story of character development and it showed that when we fall our only solution is to get up and keep going.

Without going into spoilers, I liked the ending of the book. I felt that it didn’t used the same generic story of a perfect happy ending, but instead left the characters in position where they resolved their personal issues or found the means to solve them in the future. Also, while there is the mystery of Lainey’s mother disappearance, the book doesn’t fit completely under a mystery genre and maybe romance, but instead it falls under women fiction and normal fiction, which I believed has a little of all genres in it.

I loved and hated Bonny’s husband, I loved his scenes and how Bonny handle them, I hated the arrogance that the character had. I think it shows how good is a writer, when their work seems so real that causes the reader to have these types of emotions against fictional characters.

An aspect that I didn’t liked was that at one point Lainey is been explained about her mother, but she doesn’t seem to hear what the other person is saying because she keeps going back to the same question and not taking the time to understand what the other one is saying. I know that she is emotional about learning about her mother after so many years, but I still felt that the scene was going around circles with no end.

The Bookshop at Water’s End is a story that will take you through a journey of self-discovery and understanding of the human self, when set in a situation where the past comes back to haunt our life.

If you are a fan of Patti Callahan Henry and her work, then I recommend you the Bookshop at Water’s End. Here a group of women will find their way from the troubling states of their lives, while looking over old wounds of the past and present, and understanding their true self is much more.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*