Adult / Contemporary Fiction / Romance
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars
Jean Perdu is a Paris bookseller with an extraordinary gift for matching books perfectly to his patrons' innermost needs. To Perdu, "A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy." In Monsieur Perdu's bookstore, located upon a barge nicknamed Lulu anchored on the Seine River, he hands out remedies even when his patrons don't know they have ailments. However, despite Monsieur Perdu's success as a "literary apothecary," he cannot mend his own heart, broken twenty years earlier by a lover who left him with nothing but a letter which he never opened.
When the letter is rediscovered by Perdu's new neighbor, all the pain of the past comes rushing to the present as Perdu at last reads the letter. In a moment of spontaneity, Perdu departs Paris, compelled to pilot Lulu to the south of France to reconcile his past. As Perdu is escaping to the past, a famous author is escaping the present and hops on board at the last minute. As the two travel along the rivers of France, they take on another passenger, an Italian Chef also in search of something that may not be able to be found.
The trio winds their way through waterways with colorful small towns full of colorful people, each man seeking his own conclusion to the journey. While books and their power are always at the core of the story, The Little Paris Bookshop is not so much about books but instead about humanity, love and loss, hope and healing.
The Little Paris Bookshop is very much like France itself - it's not in a hurry, it is rich in sensory details and often passionate, and food is a central, savory focus. Readers looking for a fast paced page turner won't find it here, nor will readers find a story that's all about the books, as the title might imply.
Author Nina George has a wonderful talent for description, from the eclectic mix of memorable characters to the stunning landscapes of France. Her writing is thoughtful and evocative, and readers will really enjoy immersing themselves in the bookish and French worlds revealed to them in measured pieces. Given George's original book was written in German, kudos go to Simon Pare, the translator, for such beautiful, well-written, highly quotable passages.
The numerous book references sprinkled throughout the story helped fulfill my bookish yearnings, as did the bonus of "Jean Perdu's Emergency Literary Pharmacy" at the end. Though the book was not what I expected, I wasn't disappointed with what I got instead.
Thank you to Net Galley and Penguin Random House / Crown for providing me an eBook ARC in exchange for my honest review -- the only kind I give.