The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Genre: Adult/Romance/Contemporary/Literary Fiction
The Little Paris Bookshop is a novel concerning the main character Monsieur Perdu who calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.
After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.
Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives. (Goodreads summary)
Characters: I enjoyed learning new things about the characters. Jean Perdu, the primary focus of the story, explored across the boundaries of self-forgiveness and grief within himself. Every high and low moment of his journey was acknowledged to exhibit the fact that a lamentation process could feel almost unbearable to break away from. Another crucial character was Max Jordan a young, heartthrob author on the rise who wanted to escape the bustling noise of Paris and find a new source of muse because he felt stuck in a state of writer’s block. I liked how Max and Perdu became the best of friends and relied on each other to cope with the pain of their flawed past days. Max’s twenty-two year old perspective served as a contrast against Perdu’s (who was forty-eight years old), which I thought was intriguing too, because I was able to pinpoint the differences between the behaviors of a boy and a man. (There are a lot of characters in The Little Paris Bookshop, but mentioning any additional characters would cause my review to contain spoilers, so I won’t include them here.)
Plot: I will admit that the beginning of this story felt a bit predictable to me. However, as soon as the Perdu and Max set off upon their journey, I was hooked. I read eight chapters at a time and could never figure out what would happen next. The chemistry between the cast of characters is compelling and the detailed descriptions of their boat-ride from Northern to Southern France through the author’s eyes made me really experience a setting I never gave much previous attention to.
My favorite parts weren’t solely about the main character Monsieur Perdu actually, but rather the side character Max Jordan because he has such a flirtatious, quirky personality—in a good way—and watching his character transform alongside with his relationship with the Perdu was something I found quite heartwarming.
Cover Analysis: The cover is appropriate for this book, but in my opinion could’ve been a lot better. Prior to reading The Little Paris Bookshop in its entirety, I proclaimed the cover as ‘satisfactory’ because it displayed the aesthetic quality of the Parisian landscape where the novel’s back cover clearly stated the plot took place. Yet after finishing the novel, I realized Monsieur Perdu’s bookstore barge and literature itself was a integral influence on the protagonist that I have switched my mindset now and believe that the cover should have the background of a Parisian style bookshop rather than the Eiffel tower (behind the postcard) in order to capture the true essence of the story-line and prevent the book from fading among all the other French Adult Contemporary novels within the same genre with a similar cover appearance. France has so much more to offer than just the Eiffel tower and The Little Paris Bookshop delves deep into justifying that argument.
Key Notes: There are some suggestive themes and mature content. These were to be expected though since it’s categorized in the adult genre. I wouldn’t recommend this to an amateur reader either (more of an avid one) because of the strong literary language usage and intense emotion expressed, which perhaps might not be very appealing for the faint of heart.
Overall: I think The Little Paris Bookshop is a great book that many readers can relate to and relish in. I’m glad it exists because its the type of novel that gave me lessons in life and love from a vantage point far beyond my years. Many books nowadays seem to shy away from fully embracing the grieving aspect of a character, but this novel did the complete opposite. It felt real, virtuous, and unmistakably human. George put her heart and soul into writing this novel and her work definitely paid off. Managing to blend the healing power of literature with philosophical ideas makes The Little Paris Bookshop an astounding narrative that deserves its rank on the bestseller list.
Recommended For: Fans of The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, and Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder.