Oh! Take me back to Paris! Let me waste my days in the French countryside! Feed me traditional French home cooking! All this and more is what you should expect to feel during and after you’ve read The Little Paris Bookshop.
An ode to love, France and the power of books, The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George follows Jean Perdu, a 50 year old man who has wasted half of his life because he’s too afraid to love (again). He spends his days working on his book barge, where he treats books like medicine and believes they can solve everyone’s problems…everyone’s but his.
When he has to face a 20+ year old letter from his ex-lover Manon, Jean is riled into action, where he sets off in his book barge, alongside eccentric writer Max, in search of the truth, his past and his demons.
This book is part love story, part epic. As Jean and Max set off down the Seine, there is definitely a spirit of journey amongst them – as each have to face their fears, discover who they want to be and how far they are willing to travel (literally) to achieve their dreams. Along the way, like all good adventure stories, Jean and Max encounter obstacles, fellow travellers (who join their book barge) and the truth. Conveniently, it is all set in the wondrous backdrop of the French countryside, which could not have been better described had I actually be in France at the time.
Of course, The Little Paris Bookshop is also a romance, but in more ways than I initially expected. There is the main romance is that of Jean and Manon’s, which ended over two decades ago and which has led to Jean undertaking his journey, and acts as the backbone of the novel. But there is also the romance between Jean and his neighbour, Catherine, as well as the equally important love that Jean has for his country and his books. Like I said, France is described in loving, attentive detail, and the entire time I kept thinking to myself ‘WHHHYYYY aren’t I going to France?’ (Bit of context – I leave for Europe this month, but decided to skip France this time around.) The food, the countryside, the beautiful descriptions of the smells in the air and the sunlight hitting the water – truly, The Little Paris Bookshop was a love story written by Nina George about her adoration for her country.
Really, the best way to describe this novel is charming. The characters are lovely, while flawed, the setting is truly magnificent and the storyline is both heart-wrenching and heart-warming. As a lover of books I appreciated the importance that was placed on them, as well as the humour that resulted from Jean’s love of them. Nina George has successfully created a whimsical, charming love story that is neither boring nor sentimental, but just really, truly, touching.
Have you read The Little Paris Bookshop? Have you been to France? Let me know!