Sunday, June 21, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Netgalley. This did not influence my review.

The title of my next read explains what drew me to it: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. I’m a sucker for books about books, or bookstores, or writers. And this one has all three–in Paris.

Monsieur Jean Perdu is a middle-aged book-seller who sells books off a barge, the Literary Apothecary (or Lulu) which is moored on the Seine. Jean is the true "literary apothecary." He is able to judge what ails the customers who wander onto his boat/store and put the proper book into their hands to soothe their souls. But he isn’t able to heal his own heartsickness. Jean is lonely and embittered. He loved a woman once, Manon, but she left him. That was more than twenty years ago and he hasn’t cared for or trusted anyone since.

As the book opens, a woman is moving into the apartment complex where Jean lives. This woman, Catherine, has just been abandoned by her husband. Jean and Catherine meet and hit it off. But. . .Jean still has unfinished business with Manon.

In the same building, a talented very young writer named Max has attempted to strike up a friendship with Jean. Max has written one extraordinarily successful book, but he is now suffering from writer’s block. He spends time hiding out at Jean’s store.

Impulsively, spurred on by his new feelings for Catherine and re-awakened feelings for Manon, Jean pulls anchor and decides to float down to Provence in search of memories of his old love and perhaps some redemption. Max comes along for the ride.

Houseboating down lazy French rivers and drinking in the sights, smells, and flavors is a delight. Jean lets his memories wash over him as he savors the experience. Jean has a lot of regret to wash out of his system, so it’s a good thing the scenery is so lovely for the reader while he does.

Novels focusing on the emotionally stunted middle-aged man in crisis who, through some life-changing event, finds new love and reason to live on have been popping into my reading with a bit more frequency than may be necessary. (See my recent review of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, which also had an older protagonist who was a bookseller who was mourning a lost love.) So, I may have to take a break from this type of storyline for a while. And yet, this one, with its literary theme and gorgeous French setting, was too good to pass up.

No comments:

Post a Comment