Publisher: Abacus (Little Brown) | Published 23rd April 2015 | This GORGEOUS edition: Paperback (review copy)
A delightful and quirky story about Monsieur Jean Perdu’s Literary Apothecary: a barge moored on the river Seine.
He’s a bookseller with a difference – he only sells books to customers that he believes they NEED, not always what they came in to buy. His recommendation, or ‘diagnosis’, is made after a brief consultation aboard the floating bookshop – it’s a unique gift he possesses, you see.
There’s just one problem – Monsieur Perdu cannot heal himself. For over twenty years he has lived alone in his apartment trying to forget his lost love and by doing so, he has also forgotten how to live.
I see that I have grown old without noticing. How time has passed. All that damn lost time.
The writer’s descriptions of Jean’s neighbours conjure an immediate presence of them. All of the tenants are unique characters it seems, but none more-so than the new arrival, Catherine, who has nothing, not even a stick of furniture to her name. Even so, she appears to have piqued the bookseller’s interest.
The discovery of a lost letter that had been tucked away in an old drawer of a dusty table Monsieur Perdu loans to Catherine causes the bookseller to do something completely unthinkable – he cuts the ties of the book pharmacy to make personal pilgrimage and confront his past.
Along the way, he picks up a few waifs and strays and with only books to use as currency, their antics are challenging and bizarre, but are balanced with carefully placed wit.
During the journey the odd crew has time for a lot of soul searching. But what will Jean Perdu find when he reaches his destination, and will it be the medicine he so badly needs for to help him to heal?
For all his quirks and failings, it would be hard not to warm to the lonely bookseller. He and his neighbour (and uninvited crewmate), Max, a panicking debut author who is suffering from ‘second-book’ syndrome, had a great rapport – some of the exchanges between them were priceless.
‘The Little Paris Bookshop’ is such a wonderful tale of love, life and loss, with plenty of literary references for every possible ailment. Perhaps I will find myself recommending Monsieur Perdu’s story to others, as it is also heart-warming and thoughtful:
…a book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books – Monsieur Jean Perdu
(My sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this GORGEOUS book for review. It really is a marvel – and one of the prettiest covers I’ve seen in a while!)
You can follow the author on Twitter: @nina_george | Publisher: AbacusBooks