• Bohemian
Kathryn Nolan
September 26, 2017

Two souls, drawn together beneath a fierce sky…

Calvin Ellis’s neat and orderly life is shattered when his grandfather dies, leaving him ownership of a quirky bookstore in Big Sur, California. The Mad Ones: once a place famous for poetry readings and bohemian rebellion, it now teeters on the brink of financial ruin.

Lucia Bell’s glamorous life as a super model is put into stark perspective when she shows up for a photo shoot, at a bookstore, in the middle of nowhere. She finds herself oddly intrigued by the quiet, nerdy owner with the huge glasses reading behind the register.

One night they share a passionate and frenzied kiss against a bookshelf. Outside the store, lightning strikes. Trees topple. And the world shakes beneath their feet.

As the storm tears its way through Big Sur, Calvin and Lucia share and explore their most secret desires. Hopes and dreams they once thought lost are recaptured. But inevitably, as reality roars back, they find themselves stuck at a crossroads.

Two conflicting paths. And each must make their own decision.

Which life will they choose? And will it include the other?

He is exactly the poem I wanted to write   –   Mary Oliver


This review is so difficult for me to write. I have been a fan of Kathryn’s since her first novella. But this book- This. Book.- is so beyond that, that I’m not sure where to start. Ms. Nolan is brilliant, talented and this book is so finely crafted that I don’t have the appropriate language to describe it. Bohemian is full of poetry, in both the literal and figurative sense. The story is, at its most basic, a love story, but there are layers upon layers, and I definitely think rereads would not go amiss here, in order to catch all of the nuances woven throughout.

Calvin Ellis has lost his grandfather, and gained a bookstore. The Mad Ones, located in Big Sur, is a throwback to the days of poetry readings and writers’ retreats, a historical relic of the bohemian age. A self-proclaimed nerd, Cal is a programmer, from Silicon Valley, who typically spends his days among numbers, sci-fi shows, and other nerds. He’s barely touched a book since the days, during his youth, that he spent, with his grandfather, at that very same bookstore. And now, by a twist of fate, he is tasked with running it, until he can sell it.

Lucia Bell is a supermodel. Her current shoot is taking place in the woods, and town, of Big Sur. A self-proclaimed social media addict, Lucia is not exactly sure how to handle the complete lack of internet access in the remote, albeit gorgeous, wilderness. But being surrounded by books, and poetry and the inspirational words of the amazing writers of decades long past ignites a spark inside Lucia. And she begins to remember the girl she was before a life of fame, lattes, wardrobe changes and Instagram followers. In that life, she loved reading and poetry and wanted nothing more than to be a writer one day.

These two are (seemingly) polar opposites. Lucia wants nothing more than to be adored, doesn’t shy away from the spotlight, and appears to be an extrovert in every sense of the word. Calvin prefers the shadows, a wallflower in nature, he stumbles over his words when engaged in conversation. But, oh, when sparks fly between the two, those hidden personality traits, which lay just beneath the surface are exposed and roles are entirely reversed. The shy nerd becomes the demanding, and dominant alpha. And the coy, diva supermodel blushes – all over.

Big Sur provides the two with a bubble in which they can safely explore this otherwise completely unexpected and almost ridiculous relationship. Words of prose- love and desire- are exchanged, secretly and then overtly. Storms and tidal surges trap them in this almost alternate reality, prolonging their budding affair. Lucia encourages Cal to live life on the edge and Cal helps Lucia to focus her mind and return to her journals. Together, they tempt fates and play a game of what if? What if Cal could revive the bookstore and return it to its profitable and revered glory days? What if Lucia walked away from the world she belongs to and took the time to rediscover her passions?

But when the skies clear, the path for Lucia and Cal becomes blurred. Is it possible to love someone so completely in such a short amount of time? And is love enough to change the course of your life as you knew it?

OK, so don’t get me wrong here- I know I’m making it sound like the book is this unbelievably epic love story full of depth and meaning. And it is. But, believe me, there are also some unspeakably hot sexy times, as well. And those scenes, are all the more animalistic and raw because of the emotion lurking behind them. You can just tell that Kathryn has literally poured heart and soul into this book. No scene, or conversation is unimportant. They are all an integral and well thought out part of the bigger picture. And the poetry, sigh, the poetry, it’s just the icing on the cake…