Book Review | “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George #BloggingForBooks

Posted Friday, 20 May, 2016 by jorielov , , , , , 1 Comment

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Acquired Book By: I decided to join the “Blogging for Books” programme (on 9th July, 2014) which is a book for review programme created by the Crown Publishing Group. As a book blogger you are offered books in exchange for an honest review on your book blog as well as the ability to reach new readers when you cross-post your review to the Blogging for Books website. The benefit for the blogger is exposure as a reviewer as they put direct links back to your blog post on the book you select to review as well as your homepage.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Little Paris Bookshop” direct from the publisher Crown Publishers, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

Although I have taken a bit of a reprieve from seeking out French Literature from writers who are French bourne or simply stories that arise out of being set in France – I must confess, I still have a healthy interest in reading any story that would warm a Francophile’s heart. I simply think I overdid it initially – you can overtake your sensibility at times, wherein you devour such a large portion of something you love that a short hiatus away from it is better than becoming burnt out completely. In regards to the topic at hand, I believe I kept picking such hard hitting stories of the French, my mind and heart could not re-sync to yearn for more at that particular point in time.

When I first learnt of the story inside The Little Paris Bookshop my heart swelled with interest, as any booklover would whose also a bonefide postal correspondent – such as I. The mere idea of how letters are intersecting with personal lives and how stories are capturing the hearts of unexpected readers through circumstances that are quite kismet as they are karmic and serendipitously lovely. What is not to love at the onset of digging inside a novel like this one? I felt for the first time in a long while, I might have stumbled across a novel that would be enchanting rather than mind numbing and uplifting rather than angst ridden to the extreme. Personally I think I should limit how many war dramas I consume per annum. It has a way of getting to a girl! And, why pray tell I have the tendency to read such emotionally draining works of French Lit is beyond me – I need to sprinkle in some contemporaries and some light-hearted historicals; or simply expire my ticket for war dramas for a fraction of time before resuming where I left off.

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Notation on Cover Art: Do you see that little postal stamp in the upper right corner of the postcard? Notice how half cover is overtaken by said postcard? Do you have know wicked happy it is to receive a letter by postal mail? There is such a ferret of joy erupting out of seeing a postmark, a stamp and an envelope addressed to you arriving by Post. A well of happiness about to enter your life via the written or typed conversation eagerly greeting your fingers as you slice open the envelope to reveal it’s contents. So too, is the same thirst for excitement I found in spying this book cover as a precursor to what I might find inside it’s novel’s heart. The backdrop of Paris was quite a smashing find as well.

Book Review | “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George #BloggingForBooksThe Little Paris Bookshop
by Nina George
Source: Publisher via Blogging for Books

Monsieur Perdu can prescribe the perfect book for a broken heart. But can he fix his own?

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.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780553418774

on 23rd June, 2015

Pages: 400

 Published By: Crown Publishers (@crownpublishing)

(an imprint of Crown Publishing Group)

Available Formats: Hardcover, Audiobook & Ebook

Converse on Twitter via: #TheLittleParisBookshop + #BloggingForBooks

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About Nina George

NINA GEORGE works as a journalist, writer, and storytelling teacher. She is the award winning author of 26 books, and also writes feature articles, short stories, and columns.

The Little Paris Bookshop spent over a year on bestseller lists in Germany, and was a bestseller in Italy, Poland, and the Netherlands. George is married to the writer Jens J. Kramer and lives in Hamburg and in Brittany, France.

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My review of The Little Paris Bookshop:

Memories can become a torrent of emotions swimming to the surface of our hearts as unexpectedly as finding a place that has locked everything away from our eyes – such is the case with Monsieur Perdu, as the loss of his beloved was too devastating to move past. Her life and their love was so entwined he’s cut himself off from dealing with her loss in such a way as to not cripple his present. Decades stacked upon him as he allowed himself to become cordoned off from certain rooms and certain items of remembrance. His emotional heart bleeding through renewed tears as he considers his soon-to-be act of kindness might push him back against the tides of where darkness and sorrow can swallow a man whole.

Perdu lives in an older house turnt into flats, where the walls behave like shoji screens where the verbiage of tenants become such a conduit of pieced together conversations as to alight inside one’s ear as if an unseen telephone had rung and you had suddenly become privy to the ‘party line’ of the hour. Hidden behind the doors, each flatmate holds their own secrets within their domain of space, out of sight but not nearly out of earshot. Perdu has shied his own demons with his past behind a locked door he’d rather prefer did not exist at all. He’s lived a half life for so long, to live a fuller one is a bit indifferent to his current state of being. Yet, part of his former self has re-emerged as he embarks to help one of his neighbours despite the level of personal angst it brings to his soul. He’s even tried to eradicate a memory of his beloved by simply ‘side-stepping’ round speaking her name outright and leaving a blanked space in lieu of a proper attribution!

For a man bent on retreating from society, it’s quite curious he’s brokered himself as a floating bookseller on behalf of his shoppe the Literary Apothecary! I can see what inspired the name – he fancies himself a bit of a truthsayer who can empatically read the emotional conditions of his ‘charges’ of whom are his neighbours and customers alike. He finds great joy in placing a story into the hands of a reader dearly in search of it’s literary experience – even if the seeker isn’t even aware of what they have deemed to find, as Monsieur Perdu implies most directly on their behalf he understands them better then they do themselves. His approach to sell books isn’t the norm nor is his insertion into people’s lives; he takes the backseat within his own living hours wherein he’d rather no one notice him in return but when it comes to ‘others’ he is keenly invested.

Monsieur Perdu is a social observer who appreciates the diversity of his customers who flit onto his roving book shoppe and some of whom, seek the confidence of the land before the plank. He goes to where they are comfortable speaking with him and in his own way, breaks down their anxieties and discomforts. He even finds ways to bring small joys to those who are not expecting anything but a seller hoping for a sale. In this, he’s humbled himself to be of service to others whilst not quite taking as much time to process his own affairs – then again, caregivers have the tendency to overlook and omit the obvious.

I love how George granted Perdu to be an unexpected appreciator of feline companions – where two cheeky and intuitive strays kept him company whilst reminding him that humans do need comforting even if they spend their hours trying to bring comfort to strangers; such as Perdu does most frequently. It’s also how she approached articulating the genesis of selecting ‘stories’ per each individual’s need for a particular story at any given moment of time, I felt struck a chord of applause. I could relate to this directly – especially as I read this particular novel (see the second paragraph under notes on behalf of the author’s style as well as my Apology below) as certain books alight in our lives at such brilliant timing as to best our intentions of what we shall find inside them. Others perhaps arrive ‘out-of-step’ with our readerly hearts and have to be shelved til such a time our focus inside them aligns to befit the story at hand. We breathe so much life into our hours, when it comes to our reading lives, we are kaleidoscopes of moods and impressions. Stories knit tiny stitches of experience into our cranial vortex and enrich us from the respite of reality; they endeavour to increase our empathy or our joy (depending on the story) whilst forevermore granting us the joy of disappearing inside someone’s imaginative heart whose been able to translate those images directly into our own portals of imagination. It’s quite curious how the circle is woven between writers and readers – how each in turn play a central role to how a story is understood, processed and broached into life.

One of the most beautiful moments in the story is how Perdu helps Anna, an overtaxed worker bee whose long since lost the gleam of joy out of the simple act of doing something for oneself – George allows her scene to elongate and strengthen in the gestures of a man who instinctively understands her and of whom has a cat whose consultation of heart is equally as stirring to push through the exterior wall of a woman harried long past her due. George ebbs us in and out of Perdu’s charges’ their lives flutter in and out with such ferocity as a commute of workers passing through a revolving door – each in turn, gaining something they hadn’t felt they needed and left his presence a bit better than they arrived. It’s an introspective novel attune to the humanity of choosing to care about others and finding a path inside the human spirit where emotion and experience can affect a person’s mental health.

There is a turning in the context of Monsieur Perdu’s story, where we find the great loss of his life was not a wife but a lover. George has written an account of anguish of lost love from the male perspective and granted him full licence to grieve her exit from his life as we would normally find inside a novel of Women’s Fiction or Contemporary Romance. Perdu relives the purposefully blocked out memories when an act of generosity in compassion tips his iceberg to disengage it’s static existence. Remorse for the lost hours with his beloved and the overlapping despair of never allowing himself to understand ‘why’ she had left him; unravelled his core. When his kindness of helping a neighbour in need at the opening of this story boomeranged back to him the missive of explanation (a letter had been unceremoniously hidden inside a table; twenty years past) it left Perdu further undone. His mind was quite fragile be as it were and this simple act of kindness shattered the grip he had on his emotional sanity.

When Catherine entered his life, Perdu felt he was only helping her with a basic need – a kitchen table, nothing more or less. Yet, he was as vulnerable as she was to him, each in their own way had spent a considerable amount of time regretting their choices and living through the motions of life rather than in the fuller enjoyment of how life is meant to be lived. How they each had eclipsed themselves out of two decades is unknown but with their conjoined remorse was also a hungering for affection, of romance and of being with someone who genuinely sees them whilst appreciating them for who they were. There was a moment of need in both their eyes and having found them on the brink of coupling together, I was not surprised each of them pulled away before they could commit. Perdu still had his unresolved past to push past and Catherine had her mind cluttered with her own unresolved bits to shift through, too.

Having been blessed personally with living in both rural and urban environments, I knew instantly why Forster’s stories were highlighting the freedom Perdu felt as he cruised the waterways towards Manon’s hometowne. We become accustomed to our environments – nothing wrong in that, they have this symphony of ‘familiarity’ – the sensory perception of what makes it recognisable even when we’re absent or removed from it’s setting. Yet, to dare to live in a place opposite of what your accustomed or to venture on holiday elsewhere than where your everyday hours are spent is to gain a moment outside of yourself. You embark on an adventure that changes your perception of those around you and how life can be lived in a multitude of possibilities; thus enriching your world perspective.

I felt The Little Paris Bookshop was a love story told in reverse order, or rather, told upon a thesis of how the art of living can become faded into oblivion if doubt, fear and isolation circumvent joy, happiness and magnetic curiosity for the living. Interspersed through the journey of Monsieur Perdu, we find an awkward author whose angling his own soul’s angst to become untangled from a blockage of fear – his pen isn’t out of ink; only his heart lacks the confidence he had originally to commit his words to paper. As this unexpected companion travels with Perdu, we also have a waltzing of Manon threading through where Perdu’s present starts to return back to the past. It’s a clever method of telling the story – where all is not quite forgotten, nothing is ever quite entirely lost and hope is only a whisper of a breath away.

An interlude in the midst of the drama:

We are taken through an interlude section where the love of Monsieur Perdu is given ample time to express herself in her own words. She started to come through clearer when Perdu allowed himself to read her letter, but here, in this additional and separate section from the novel (although inserted all the same as if it were always meant to be discovered on page 97) we find out more of her nature and of her innermost desires. This is the woman Perdu fell so radioactively in love and whom he could not live without; as his love for her was quite toxic in the end; it blinded him to a truth she attempted to share and took out a chance to grant her one last wish.

George’s poetic lyricism is on full throttle inside this section, too. Her portrait of Manon bursting out of her closeted lifestyle and embracing spontaneity for the first time during this portion of her life is electric. It’s full of a lifeblood of earnest unrestrained joy and the cleverness of seeing the world in such a way as to feel as if it’s the first time you’ve drunk it all into your soul. I liked how George presented an eye on France to such a degree of insight as to feel it’s pulse rather than merely see it’s heart. She grants perspective out of analogy, bridging the wholeness of a human’s experience rather than blighting out the dimensions that might go unnoticed.

Manon in this half of her life is on the fringes of hoping to find something she wasn’t sure she needed – her train ride to Paris came at a junction point for her hours, where a quickening fever to live was her mantra.

Her words continue on page 156, as if Manon herself is trying to provide Perdu with flight from his guilt and place empathsis on her choices; reasoning why her path took her where it did. She was a carefree spirit who embraced her lustful side and attempted to remain truthful to her loves; the man she would marry who loved her despite her faults and the lover (Perdu) of whom wanted only her yet had to reconcile she was not the monogamous type. She is a bird in constant flight – indulging in her fancies, flying to seek her own truth and never quite understanding why she has a restlessness about her; this inward notion that she is never quite satisfied. She has a thirst to live, whatever the consequences could strike against her – but she is balanced by her family and the love she allows inside her life. Part contradiction in some ways, but moreso she is a woman re-imagining how she could live if only she could muster the art of not wanting more than she ought to desire. She has such urgency to breathe in everything she can as if her hourglass is nearly expired.

On the writing style of Nina George:

Her sense of characterisation and of eloquenting a human’s spin on how to properly purport one’s emotional heart into everyday observation and expression is quite fittingly captured in her narrative for this story. She has found ways to accelerate your understanding of the deepest layers of grief Perdu has fallen inside whilst keeping a fingermark on a lighter shine on where life continues to move forward even if the soul of the person isn’t yet ready to let go of their grief. There are stages to sorrow and the ways in which each person decides is right for them to move forward is individually distinctive. Ergo nothing is every ‘right’ nor ‘wrong’ in the process of healing one’s heart. I was moved and enchanted by her choices as I turnt the pages – curious for what I might find next as my eyes drank in the beauty of her words.

George has found a way to create a book lover’s story about giving true measure of consideration for how stories transform us but they also endeavour to inspire us towards action. If our hours only languish inside the stories without further thought to the implications of the lives we’ve lived inside those character’s shoes, we’ve only half appreciated the stories for what they were written to yield. She’s found a way to tuck inside a literary voyage of self-discovery and self-redemption – where her character has to grant himself the will to act when he’s been so besotted by grief he could not or would not allow himself anything other than anguished blindness to dimmer the days in which he walked without expectation of happiness. The mind is full of perplexities and in connection to our emotional hearts, our mind can refute to see where healing can lead us through a period of numbing sorrow; it’s almost as if the soul has issues with accepting a reality devoid of the presence we grew so accustomed to being around.

This is a thinking man’s story – George lays down the foundations of introspection first on behalf of Perdu, but she encourages the reader to take up the lead she’s provided to contemplate how Perdu’s life might impact your own. Even vice versa – if your own experiences might not run parallel because you learnt a keen lesson ahead of him.

If I can be so bold to say, if I were to have carried through reading this novel last year, I am unsure if it would have had the same affect on me as it has now. The moments I’ve lived through, the added emotional angst of having lost a dearly loved companion in fur and the joys intermittently thrown in for good measure as well – the full of what I’ve lived since the day this book first arrived to be read, I feel has deepened my appreciation for it’s story. Timing can play such a distinctive role with the books we are reading – sometimes even, alter how we internalise the central heart of what the writer has left behind for us to absorb. I cannot think of a better moment for me to read The Little Paris Bookshop than the hour I resumed reading it’s chapters and wondrously did not want the story to end!

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This book review is courtesy of: Blogging for Books

Blogging for Books - book for review programme for book bloggers

Note of Apology to Blogging for Books and the author, Ms George:

I honestly had forgotten about this book somewhere between Summer and Autumn; I blame it on the hard transition from one season to the next, as in all honesty, the day I requested this book I was supremely *excited!*; then I was struck down (technologically speaking; I lost a heap of equip!) by 60 days of lightning storms that took 30 days to recoup from to regain the ability to blog properly. Somewhere in that insanity, yes, I honestly forgot I was meant to read and review The Little Paris Bookshop for which I am now apologising for the extended delay in getting this posted.

To complicate things, as Winter began – I could not re-attach myself to this story, as I struggled to read any of the stories I was trying to read – I previously blogged quite a bit about what was going on in my life post-tragic loss of my beloved cat in January (read: Two Years, Two Cats), whilst mentioning underneath several reviews this Spring [2016] about the sudden return of my chronic migraines (March & April). To put it plainly, my joy of reading was tested greatly and just to be able to return to books in a way that uplifts my spirit has been a blessing. I kept forgetting about this novel because my heart and focus was not on reading but on transitioning through what was personally afflicting me through the seasons.

I hope I haven’t lost the chance to review with Blogging for Books in 2016. . It’s my hope to continue to review for Blogging for Books on a more frequent schedule. Being able to resume where I left off with this book was incredible because I believed in it’s story and wanted to fully experience where it’s central heart would take me visually as I stepped inside the shoes of the lead character! Simply overjoyed I can finally bring my thoughts to my readers and the publisher at long last!

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I look forward to reading your thoughts and comments on behalf of this review. Especially if you read the novel or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same novel to read on a blog tour or for review.

Reader Interactive Question:

What do you like about stories that speak directly to the book lover’s soul and the art of generating a passionate connection to both stories and the characters who are so wholly realistic as we read their tales!?

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “The Little Paris Bookshop”, the book synopsis and author biography were provided by Blogging for Books and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Tweets embedded due to codes provided by Twitter.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 20 May, 2016 by jorielov in Adulterous Affair, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Apothecary, Blog Tour Host, Blogging for Books, Book Review (non-blog tour), Bookish Discussions, Cats and Kittens, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, France, French Literature, French Novel Translated into English, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Humour & Satire in Fiction / Non Fiction, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Literary Fiction, Men's Fiction, Mental Health, Modern Day, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Publishing Industry & Trade, Vulgarity in Literature, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

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One response to “Book Review | “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George #BloggingForBooks

  1. Great review, Jorie! Happy to hear that you enjoyed the book. I think maybe the reason I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would’ve was because of the time when I read it; it moved a little too slow for my liking to really appreciate some of the themes that the book was trying to convey as well as pique my general interest.

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