Monday, August 17, 2015

The Little Paris Bookshop - Nina George

The Little Paris Bookshop
Title: The Little Paris Bookshop
Author: Nina George
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 392
How I Found It: NetGalley
Date Completed: 8/1/15

Summary: Decades after the love of his life left him, Monsieur Perdu has devoted his life to his floating bookstore, moored on the Parisian shores of the Seine. He cites his profession as "literary apothecary" and dispenses cures for ailments of the heart, mind, and soul through literature. Meanwhile, the discovery of an old letter from his long lost love sends him on an unexpected journey of healing.

What I Thought: I had really high hopes for this book. After all, it seems destined to be a book for book lovers, a qualification I clearly possess. I love the idea of a Parisian bookshop doling out novels like prescriptions. 

The introductory part of the book, the first third really, centered more on this idea. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Monsieur Perdu's daily life, his emotional battles and heartaches, and his tentative hopes for new love. I especially loved his interactions with customers, as he advised them on which books would best suit their needs and desires. Had the whole book stayed in this setting and maintained some of these attributes, I think I could have loved it.

However, upon reading the letter from his long vanished love, he lifts the anchor of his bookstore and heads on a journey down the Sienne, determined to find out what happened to the woman from so long ago. To me, this turn of plot brought with it a distinct change in tone. Suddenly, it felt like a much different book to me, one in which I was not nearly as interested. Not a bad book, just not one that kept me captivated....or even terribly interested.

In some ways, it reminded me of The Elegance of the Hedgehog; lots of dialogue, lots of philosophizing, not a lot of action....quite French, really, which is interesting since the book was originally written in German. Perhaps it's more European than anything else.

In the end, the book ends on a happy note and I enjoyed the last few chapters with the same enthusiasm as the early pages. If the middle just could have been in the same vein as the bookends....

Quotes I Loved: "Books keep stupidity at bay. And vain hopes. And vain men."
"I can only breathe if I read."

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Unlikely

A Reduced Review: A beautiful concept that did not live up to my expectations in its execution. 

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