Title: The Little Paris Bookshop
My rating: 4/5
Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.
After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.
An absolutely delightful read (as evidenced by my consuming it in its entirety in one day!). Somehow, I believed that I started this novel a while back and stopped because I couldn’t get into it so I was somewhat dreading picking it back up to start anew since I received it as a gift. Fortunately, I found it to go above and beyond my expectations. It is a journey of grief, fear, ignorance, absolution, forgiveness, love, and friendship all wrapped into one. As an aside, I imagined what lovely ideas the book barge and using books as medicine are! I would love to provide this service to others and sail around coastal towns with a bookstore on a boat! I relate to Jean Perdu’s plight to not be able to recommend a book cure for himself because he has not given himself the space to heal – ironic as he prescribes books to customers that challenge his audacity, but then come back for the book in the end.
Quotes to stick with me:
“I wanted to treat feelings that are not recognized as afflictions and are never diagnosed by doctors. All those little feelings and emotions no therapist is interested in, because they are apparently too minor and intangible” (George 23)
“Perdu used his ears, his eyes, and his instincts. From a single conversation, he was able to discern what each soul lacked. To a certain degree, he could read from a body’s posture, its movements, and its gestures, what was burdening or oppressing it…’You can see an hear through most people’s camouflage. And behind it you see all things they worry and dream about, and the things they lack” (George 27-28)