Title: The Little Paris Bookshop
Author: Nina George
Translator: Simon Pare
Date of Publication: 23 April 2015
Number of Pages: 402
Summary: On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a ‘literary apothecary’, for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers.
The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust – until now. The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.
Review: I cannot stress enough just how freaking fantastic this book is.
Nina George, in translation by the incredible Simon Pare, has written an absolute gem. The Little Paris Bookshop is warm, tender, funny, serious, heart breaking and I could go on. I dearly want to float down the Seine with Monsieur Perdu on the Literary Apothecary.
There were numerous times I highlighted entire passages and single sentences. To share a few;
“Books keep stupidity at bay. And vain hopes. And vain men. They undress you with love, strength and knowledge. It’s love from within. Make your choice: book or…” (Chapter 3)
“’Books were my friends’, said Catherine, and cooled her cheek, which was red from the heat of the cooking, on her wineglass. ‘I think I learned all my feelings from books. In them I loved and laughed and found out more than in my whole non reading life.’” (Chapter 10)
“Homesickness is lovesickness, only worse” (Chapter 14)
“Never listen to fear! Fear makes you stupid.” (Chapter 18)
“The death of our loved ones is merely a threshold between an ending and a new beginning.” (Chapter 44)
There were numerous times I felt my heart was going to explode, such was my emotional investment.
This book is not what the cover suggests.
Going by some of the other reviews on Goodreads, many people fell into the trap of judging a book by its cover and subsequently, they didn’t enjoy themselves. I’m not going to say this is wrong as many a time have I done the same thing. What I try to do is be self-reflexive and engaged with the text. It seems to me that many of the one star reviews wanted something cute and are simply bitter because they didn’t get it. It also makes me sad when the comments to some of the negative reviews are just bitching and whining about how the writer didn’t write what they wanted. I wish I could say there was any change in this recurring them but there isn’t. I’m so annoyed with the negative reviews. The writer writes for themselves, not for someone they will never meet.
This is also a very French, or really German to be correct about the authors nationality, book. There is something about the French / European method of teaching that creates incredibly unique literary voices. I don’t read them as often as I should because they’re not always easy to get in translation and in some cases, haven’t been translated but this is the challenge. If you want cutesy chick lit, there is an overabundance of the stuff. If you want intelligent, well thought out fiction, this is your best choice.
Me, I didn’t want to read anything for a week once I finished.
Read Between: 09-10 August 2016