The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George


General FictionThe Little Paris Bookshop by Nina GeorgeTranslated by Simon Pare

The Little Paris Bookshop is a wonder – a quiet, poignant, soaring book about reading, love of books, human foibles and emotions, and self discovery. Nina George pays tribute to readers, authors, and the solace and joy books can provide.

Twenty years earlier the only woman Jean Perdu loved left and didn’t return. Now his personal life is solitude and starkness. Although his personal life is shut down, he relates to people in his job. He owns a bookstore he calls the Literary Apothecary. He tends to listen to his customers to discover what they really need, rather than what they may want in a book. At times he refuses to sell a book to a customer, certain the book is wrong for the customer’s current life situation and emotions.

The bookstore is located on a barge moored on the Seine in Paris. It has sat there for over twenty years. It is kept in good condition, though, and could be used on the river. When Perdu’s frozen emotional state starts to crack, he unmoors his store/barge and heads south towards Provence. He is joined by a young whiz kid author who can’t get started on a second book. The Little Paris Bookshop is Perdu’s story of finally returning to life, twenty years later.

To paraphrase author George, some books can be devoured and read quickly, but some must be sipped, reading only a few pages or a short time. The Little Paris Bookshop is a book to be read slowly as the reader stops to ponder what has just happened or the many discussions on the value of reading and knowledge.

  • Reading makes you impudent
  • Books can have flavors like food
  • Books change people
  • Some novels are lifelong companions
  • Some books are “pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful void”
  • Some books may make the difference to only one person, which make them important, too

Although I read it slowly, Perdu’s adventure on the river with his companions kept me involved. They end up in an underground tango dance club. They visit Cuisery, the village of books (how did we miss this town when we took a driving trip in France?). They annoy other serious sailors. They barter their books for food, gas, and bureaucrat paperwork and fines. They are down to a can of white beans to eat at one time, at another are eating sumptuous home cooked meals.

The Little Paris Bookshop is an exceptional story. Author George captures the essence of people going through the stages of life. She shows how the stages of grief applies in many ways. And she affirms the power and love of books and reading. I borrowed this from the library. Now I’m going to buy my own copy and share it with a lot of my friends, especially the voracious readers. They will also get caught up in The Little Paris Bookshop.

Notice: Suggestive dialogue or situations

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