I usually prefer books that can be described as moving, heartbreaking, uplifting or captivating. I like to be lifted up and shaken when I read, and I love books that change my view on life or human beings or stun me with unexpected twists.
And yet, the most apt description I can think of for The Little Paris Bookshop is “sweet”. That is not to say that this book didn’t have depth and appeal. But this little gem is undeniably sweet, as well as being clever, touching and entertaining.
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George follows the story of Jean Perdu, who sells books from a barge floating on the Seine. Calling himself a literary apothecary, he suggests books to customers that he believes will heal their souls and help solve their problems.
However Monsieur Perdu has his own emotional issues. After the death of his lover decades ago, he closed off emotionally, dedicating his life to his customers. However, when a new woman enters his life, he feels his barriers breaking down, with a revelation about his former lover providing impetus to make a change.
And so, Monsieur Perdu finds himself drifting down the Seine in the company of a talented but troubled young writer.
They make friends along the way, visit beautiful French villages, eat well, and talk deeply. They revisit the past and make decisions that will change their futures.
And while the book is sweet and lovable on the surface, risking becoming a little sickly, George steers out of this territory through her insightful commentary on the emotional lives of the diverse characters, and the nature of love and grief.
A particularly poignant part of the book is Monsieur Perdu’s former lover’s diaries, which reveal her thoughts in the lead up to her death.
Ultimately, The Little Paris Bookshop is a great holiday read, with its easy language, heartwarming relationships and well-placed insights and incredibly likeable characters. Perfect for on the beach, by a pool, on a train or on a plain.
And who doesn’t love a book in which books feature so prominently?