Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

The Little Paris Bookshop
by Nina George
Read by Steve West and Emma Bering with Cassandra Campbell
Published June 2015 by Crown Publishing Group
Source: audiobook checked out from my local library

Publisher's Summary:
Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened. 

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

My Thoughts:
“Books are more than doctors, of course. Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you've got those autumn blues. And some...well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful voice. Like a short, torrid love affair.”

My bookclub read this one as our book about books; it's probably not something I would have picked up of my own accord. It's not the book I thought it was going to be and I'm thinking it's better for not having been that book but I'm still trying to decide if it's pink candy floss or something that will stay with me longer. There are some wonderful gems of writing here and some really wonderful characters. On the other hand, as one reviewer remarked George seems always to have used two words where one would do and there are a lot of places where you just have to suspend logic if you want to enjoy the book. And I did want to enjoy the book. I so wanted for Perdu to find peace and for Max (a young author who hitched a ride with Perdu) to find his muse. I enjoyed the many ways that George presented sensuality and passion from dance to food to books. There is a scene of tango dancing that's absolutely marvelous and the writing about food made my mouth water. The landscape comes alive and I certainly found myself thinking that a leisurely boat trip down the Seine might well be the perfect vacation. 

There are some diary pieces in the book that really pulled me out of the story and I felt could have been left out entirely without the book missing a beat. There are some cliches, a scene with a deer that felt really out of place even though George used it to move the characters to a new place. And there were, perhaps, a few too many quirky characters. On the other hand, it's one of those books that tackles tough subjects but mostly with a light touch and plenty of humor, the kind of book that's perfect for my mood right now. 

As a bookclub choice, I recommend The Little Paris Bookshop, even if very little time is spent in Paris and the bookshop is certainly not the focus of the book. I'm glad that I chose to listen to this book; Steve West, in particular, does a terrific job. 

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