The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is enchanting, engaging and a "book reading experience". Have you ever read a book that you were enjoying so much you didn't want it to end? For me, this is on the short list of those books. These are the books I long for, and when I rarely find one, I try to savor it.
The main character here is Jean Perdu, and he is a literary apothecary. He maintains a bookstore on a barge that is floating on the Seine in Paris from which he dispenses books like medicine for the ailments of his customers. As Monsieur Perdu travels through the pages of this book, he is keeping a little notebook of titles to add to his list of prescriptions, and this list is included at the end of the book.
Early in the story we learn that M. Perdu is 50, and for the past 21 years he has been dealing with the loss of the love of his life. He had been involved with Manon, a married woman who lived in the south of France with her husband. She would travel to Paris periodically, and Jean was her lover there. For 5 years they had maintained an intense love affair. This came to an abrupt end when she left him a letter in a sealed envelope. He was so hurt and angry, and so sure he knew what was in the letter, that he put it in the drawer of a table and refused to read it.
21 years later, he was asked to give the table to a new neighbor in his apartment building. He did so - with the letter in the drawer. The neighbor read the letter and told him he HAD to read it. Doing so totally upended his world. I'm not going to spoil your reading pleasure by telling you what was in the letter, but I will tell you that its contents drives him through the rest of the book. He is so unsettled that he feels he must go on a quest to Manon's home in southern France, so with just a change of clothing he casts his book barge into the river and proceeds to sail south. The rest of the book is about the people and places he encounters on his journey.
One thing I loved about this story was that it wasn't predictable. I know what I wanted to happen, but the ending took me by surprise. The writing style of this author is engaging and enchanting. The descriptions of the places he visits throughout France did much to feed my Francophile tendencies. I only wish a detailed map had been supplied with the book so I could have traced his course. (Thank goodness for Google Maps!) Another addition at the end of the book is a collections of French recipes for food that is mentioned in the story. Lavender ice cream? Yes - it really exists!
This book is so popular that it has its own Facebook page !
Ok - that's it for this review. I'm going to close this now and open up Google Maps so I can explore France.... Thanks for visiting, and come back again soon!