Nina George's enchanting The Little Paris Bookshop deals with the nature of grief; the power of friendship, love and truth; and how reading and books have the capacity to change peoples' lives, souls and destinies. The narrative centers on 50-year-old Monsieur Jean Perdu, who owns a bookstore called the Literary Apothecary--actually a floating barge "the length of three truck trailers" that houses 8,000 books, moored on the Seine. Perdu lives at 27 Rue Montagnard and is a passionate bibliophile who believes that booksellers don't just look after books, they look after people.
Things take a turn when two new residents move into Rue Montagnard. Max Jordan is a young author whose debut novel has made him famous, but he is plagued with writers' block. The other new neighbor is Madame Catherine, who moves into the flat across the hall from Perdu. The tenants of the building rally to help this newly cast-off wife who has nothing of her own to set up her new apartment.
Perdu delivers a table to Madame Catherine's apartment, and she discovers a letter hidden inside that causes Perdu's head and heart to spiral into an emotional tailspin. He takes refuge in the Literary Apothecary, soon hauling anchor and setting sail--but not before Max, who's being pursued by paparazzi, jumps aboard the moving barge.
George is a lyrical writer whose beautiful, sensory language and imagery enhance this adventurous, moving narrative. On their voyage, the men are frequently mistaken for father and son, and they pass the time by sharing life stories. In the end, their excursion propels Perdu to finally reconnect with himself--the person he was, is and who he will become in the future.
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Crown Publishing, $25.99 Hardcover, 9780553418774, 400 pp
Publication Date: June 23, 2015
Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (6/30/15), click HERE
To read the full review of this novel as originally published as a special feature of Shelf Awareness: Maximum Shelf (4/8/15)--a much longer and much more comprehensive review--link HERE