Originally published in German, Translation by Simon Pare
Jean Perdu, owner of the renowned Literary Apothecary on the margins of the Seine, sets sail aboard his cargo book barge searching for the remainder of the life the woman he loved twenty one years ago has left behind. Accompanying him is Max Jordan, France's most famous author under 30, who is suffering with writer's block and under his newfound fame. Soon other characters join the pilgrimage along France's waterways.
Paris and books, need I say more? Yes, indeed I do. I thought The Little Paris Bookshop would be reminiscent of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, which I loved; instead, I was somewhat disappointed. The Little Paris Bookshop is an uneven book. I liked the story of Mr. Perdu; how he dealt with his grief, and the trip he embarked on to find himself again. I also liked the language: rich and smooth like velvet, the descriptions of French towns and life in the southern coast, and food recipes.
I didn't like, however, Manon's diary entries or the passages involving her, at least until the very end when her story finally came together. I don't think her character, despite being drawn out of memory, was that well defined. The book would have been better off without those passages, again until the end, because it was then that Manon’s journey and choices finally made sense.
The ending was nice, positive and all wrapped up with a colorful bow, but I liked it very much particularly because it was a good departure from the grief so talked about during the earlier chapters.