My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Little Paris Bookshop had all of the elements necessary to be one of those books I fall deeply and passionately in love with. A literary apothecary prescribing books to cure life’s ailments from a floating bookshop on the waters of the Seine? Yes please! But as desperately as I wanted The Little Paris Bookshop to be my next great read, it really didn’t click with me as much as I wanted it to.
Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot to love about this book and it is more than worth your time and a spot on your summer reading list. Even my 3 star rating is somewhat misleading as I would have given it another half a star if Goodreads allowed that option.
And to be fair, I am not even sure that my reaction to the book is really a reflection of the book itself. In the novel, Jean Perdu explains that books can be dispensed as medicine and that the side effects of one book may be too much for a specific reader depending on what ails them. With that in mind, maybe my issue with this book is simply that I have been dealing with some stuff in my life that make the idea of running away from home on an book-laden barge more than a little frustrating, simply because I don’t have that option.
When all is said and done, I guess my main complaint is that there were too many great ideas and concepts for just one book. I found myself wishing that the author, Nina George, had taken more time to dwell on Jean Perdu’s life in Paris. She spent so much time building up the inhabitants of Perdu’s apartment building, his parents, and his work as a bookseller but then abruptly abandons them all for Perdu to embark on a watery walkabout / emotional pilgrimage when he finally reads a letter written by his long-lost lover. That’s not to say that Perdu sailing off into the sunset to confront his past and perform his penance for past mistakes wasn’t worth reading. There’s some really great writing there too and had the author left Perdu in Paris, I would have missed out on two of my favorite characters and some of my favorite parts of the book.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I wish that I could have taken The Little Paris Bookshop in two doses – one that focused on life in Paris, seeing the Perdu’s literary cures come to fruition and getting to know the colorful characters mentioned in the beginning of the book better, and one that followed Perdue and Max on their journey of discovery and renewal.