Written by Nina George
I really, really wanted to like this book. Sometimes I liked it, sometimes it irritated me. More than anything, it irritated me that it wasn’t better.
The Little Paris Bookshop is the story of Jean Perdu, the owner of a bookshop called The Literary Apothecary. Perdu prescribes books as medicine, but can’t seem to heal his own broken heart. Without giving too much away, it is the story of the journey Perdu takes to heal that broken heart.
Apparently, George wrote this book while coping with the death of her father. Maybe that explains why the book feels full of loss and death. I feel for George. I cannot imagine the pain anyone would feel upon the loss of a parent. I hate having to write negatively about a book that helped someone heal.
But y’all. Perdu mourned his lost love for decades. And still managed to whine philosophically about her for the entirety of this book. Perdu’s inner musings take up so much of the book, and they come across as self-righteous, self-centered, and holier-than-thou. Any time he started thinking or remembering, I rolled my eyes and skimmed until something finally interrupted him.
Conceptually, the story is interesting. I’m purposely not saying anything more, because it wasn’t a terrible book, and you might want to judge for yourself. I personally always like quests. And this was a pretty cool catalyst and outcome (if only Perdu would’ve gotten over himself at some point).
The characters and the relationships in this book rescue it. George has a talent for creating complete, quirky, believable characters. Any time the characters interacted, I was hooked. Some of them were lightly formed like Perdu’s landlady and the pianist who shared his building. Some were realistically kooky like the author neighbor and Italian cook he meets on his journey. The book skipped along whenever Perdu interacted with other people. The dialogue could be unnecessarily crude at times, but overall, the character interactions were delightful.
Another thing I loved were the letters Perdu wrote towards the end of the book. His letters were descriptive and poetic. Each letter revealed more about him than every single word of his internal monologues combined.
I’ve read so many books in this vein. Books that handled life with a deft hand. Books that contained characters you wanted to meet and befriend. Books that taught you how to deal with real, hard truths while allowing you a respite from your own real, hard truths. This was not that book. And I really wanted it to be.