“… a novel is like a garden where the reader must spend time in order to bloom”
There is something special about reading a book which tells the story of a book seller and intertwines narrative about other novels. The Little Paris Bookshop is the gentle story of Monsieur Perdu, who “prescribes” books based on individual need from his Literary Apothecary. He is able to ascertain what books would be helpful to an individual after asking a few questions and matches literature to needs. The bookshop is situated on a docked barge in Paris, France. Perdu has his own private story which he has locked inside himself for the past twenty years.
The novel begins as a new neighbour moves into the building where Perdu lives. She has been abandoned by her spouse and has required furniture donations. Perdu donates a table and within it, she finds and returns an unopened letter from a former love, Manon. The reader comes to understand that when the lover left Perdu, he ceased feeling and punished himself by living a regimented live lacking connection with others and avoiding the pleasure of enjoying good food and music. He closed himself off, closed the room off where they spent time together, stubbornly refused to read the letter and to utter her name.
Opening the letter is a turning point as he discovers that there was more about Manon’s departure than he had imagined. He has dinner with the new tenant and then, on a whim, he sails away on the barge which has not moved in years and embarks on a pilgrimage to discover more about Manon. A young, struggling author joins Perdu and they meet an interesting menagerie of individuals along with way that are each searching for something themselves and contribute to Perdu’s ‘rebirth’.
Although the story started off slowly, it was enjoyable and sweet. Perdu discovers happiness and positively impacts the lives of his passengers and those that they meet along with way. I would recommend this novel and if you are looking for other book related novels, I highly recommend The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel (Gabrielle Zevin), The Bookseller (Cynthia Swanson) or the The Thirteenth Tale (Dianne Setterfield).
“Books are more than doctors, of course. Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you’ve got those autumn blues. And some… well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful void. Like a short, torrid love affair”