As an avid reader, I have always known the power of books. I have relished the power that books have to heal, to hold our hand when we need it, to kick us in the rear when we need it. To cry with us. To laugh with us. I have understood the magic of books and their many emotions. But never have I read a book that says that so beautifully. Until now.
The Little Paris Bookshop does all of those things and in such an expressive and impassioned manner that you want to read the words over and over again. Nina George has a beautiful way of articulating exactly what so many readers feel about books. “.. a book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy.” p 28
But this novel is not just about books, but also about the power that love has to make us whole, to destroy us, to heal us.
And it is also about the power that we have inside ourselves when we realize that true happiness comes from within and that losing someone can only damage us if we live to forget them. We must remember them, for they will forever be a part of what makes us whole.
Monsieur Jean Perdu owns a 60-foot barge, and on that barge are hundreds, maybe thousands of books. They are not merely for sale. Perdu can somehow “read” people and know exactly what they need from a book in order to heal. And those are the books that he sells them. What they need, not simply what they want. Perdu “thought it was a common misconception that booksellers looked after books. They look after people.” p. 24
It is on this book barge, The Literary Apothecary, that Perdu finds the books to help and heal his customers, but nothing to heal and help himself. You see, for 20 years he has run away from the memory of the great love of his life who left him with only a letter. A letter that he has not read, for he knows for certain what it says. And he cannot bear it.
But when a new neighbor moves into his apartment building with nothing but a broken heart, Perdu feels a deep need to help her, even if that means opening the scars of the last 20 years and reading the letter the new neighbor happened upon. Once the letter has been opened Perdu has no choice but to go to his lover and set things right. For her sake, but mostly for his.
This sets about a journey of pain, grief, anger and finally understanding and peace. And, trust me, this is one journey you do not want to miss.