2. The Little Paris Bookshop

“How on earth could I have let them talk me into it?”

The Little Paris Bookshop, Nina George

Ugh, this book.  This book was not for me.  I mean, it seemed like it could have been - which is why I bought it.  The main character Monsier Perdu (yes, his name is Mr. Lost and duh, that should have stopped me right there if I had been slightly more savvy), is a literary apothecary - he prescribes the proper book to restore a person’s spirits.  That is a totally charming idea, and if I am to be fair about this book, that part of the book is lovely.  If in retrospect I find some of his suggestions a bit banal, that may be my disdain for the rest of the novel coloring my view.  Because I just reviewed the suggested reading list, and with the one exception of Game of Thrones, the suggested novels are pretty good.  Anyone who recommends Terry Pratchett can’t be all wrong.

That having been said, the rest of the book is gar-bage.  I mean, garbage with a gloss of respectability.  Let me just be clear - this book is on bestseller lists, and I see why.  I think (and here I am taking advantage of the fact that no one who is related to me ever reads this - despite constantly asking me for reading recommendations), my mom would like this book.  It’s a “mom” book.  That seems like a slam, and ignores the fact that I am, in fact a mom, but let me put it another way.  The cover of this book has the following quote from Oprah.com: “It you’re looking to be charmed right out of your own life for a few hours, sit down with this wise and windsome novel.” I mean, obviously I should have known better than to pick this up. Because this book is just dripping with “charm.”  It is charming as hell.  The people in it act like no living people on Earth, sure, and the plot is ridiculous, but it has tons of charm.

I want to go ahead with all the ways the book is stupid (from the very initial premise which involves someone purposely not reading a letter for 20 years, and then all of a sudden reading it.  And then we are supposed to feel some urgency when he acts on the contents of the letter he just chose to ignore. I’m not an author, but wouldn’t we care more if he had just found the letter after 20 years? Because then you wouldn’t be asking me to care about an idiot.), but maybe you want to read it and I won’t give away the plot.  I will just say that, this is a book in which a young mother dies of cancer and leaves a child — a plot that his VERY CLOSE TO HOME - and I wasn’t even a little sad about it.  So, yeah, the characters didn’t do much for me.

Now, you can ask why I am willing to overlook  - nay seek out - goofy charming books from the 1920s and 30s, but am being so hard on this book.  I think the answer is, once you introduce real modern issues (sex, dying, etc.) to your “charming” book you lose me.  If it’s about a little fluffy romance, sure, go ahead.  Once you are grappling with real life issues, I am going to demand a flutter of reality if I am going to buy in.  But that having been said, lots of people seem to like this book.  And I *am* going to give it to my mom.  Sorry, mom.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017