Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Little Paris Bookshop

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George   392 pages

The Little Paris Bookshop is quite an unusual bookstore with an equally unusual proprietor. Monsieur Jean Perdu’s bookstore is floating barge along the Seine. Perdu considers himself a literary apothecary.. He can prescribe just the write book to meets the needs of the buyer.
However, there is one person Perdu cannot ease the symptoms of what ails him, no matter what book he selects. That person is himself. He is heartbroken. Twenty-one years ago, his true love, Manon, left him. She sent a letter which he has never opened because he is sure it contains usual lines: “it’s not you, it’s me;” “I’m not ready for the love you have to give;” yada, yada, yada.

But now things are changing in his apartment building. A new tenet has arrived with only the clothes in her back. The building manager asks all the residents for a donation. Perdu has been assigned a table.
Yes he has a table, but that means entering the lavender room he shared with Manon, which has been sealed shut for twenty-one years. Torn between his reluctance to enter the room and his desire to help his new neighbor, Catherine, he wills himself to enter and takes the table across the hall.

Catherine find Manon’s letter and returns it. Faced with its actual presence again, Perdue opens it. Manon’s words shock him to his core; what she says and requests is nothing, nothing, like he imagined.
Perdue decides to go looking for Manon to learn for himself if her words were true. He casts off the lines of his barge and begins the long trek south to Manon’s home. He is joined by his two cats, and at the last second, by another apartment-building neighbor, Max, who is looking to escape his sudden fame and complete writer’s block.

The story of the journey takes up roughly two-thirds of the book. I didn’t care for the slapstick antics that ensued. It didn’t help that an Italian chef, also looking for a long-lost love, joined the merry cast. The slapstick got in the way of the story for me, making the story seem somewhat unbelievable. I also felt lost with all the names of the villages that the characters traveled through, even though the author supplied one. All in all, I really like the first and last fourths of the story. The characters evoked empathy in these sections.

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