From his floating bookshop in a barge on the Seine, Monsieur Perdu the ‘Literary Apothecary,’ prescribes novels to help mend the hardships of life using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs to mend a broken heart or soul. However, the only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself: He is haunted by heartbreak since his great love, Manon, disappeared leaving only a letter that he has never opened. Finally, after 21 years, Perdu opens and reads it - and hauls anchor on his barge.
In this international bestseller translated from German, the author Nina George, a lover of all things French and author of 26 books takes us on a journey from Paris along the Seine to Provence. As we travel south the characters warm-up (along with the weather!) and the story starts to reveal itself. The atmosphere onboard is vivid with picturesque imagery and at times you could almost smell the wonderful cooking aromas coming from the kitchen.
The main protagonist, Jean Perdu, is a passionate and charismatic man, full of angst and hankering to his past lover, though he has a relationship with Catherine, a tenant in his apartment block in Paris who is thrown out of her home by her husband.
When Perdu decides on his mission to find Manon, a famous author, Max Jordan, announces he is joining the trip and jumps on board the leaving barge. He is suffering from writer’s block and struggling to regain his purpose. The pair are opposites in temperament and age and have no money. Their efforts to survive result in laugh-out-loud moments. Each character is unique and well crafted, including the calm and cool Luc Bassett, Manon’s ex-husband. Manon was engaged to Luc Basset when she met Monsieur Perdu.
In style, the Little Paris Bookshop is a deeply sentimental book, though its poetic prose has words flying off the page in places. It covers many themes including love, loss, cowardice, betrayal and new beginnings.
Avoiding plot spoilers, let’s say this novel has moments of suspense, a few twists, a bit of romance and humor, alongside an insight into all things French. A book about obsession that will have you hooked.
By the end, there is redemption of a sort and ‘moving on.’ Despite the occasional hard-to-avoid cliches, it is still an enjoyable read. Nina George’s idea of a literary apothecary is enchanting. It is a pity that this aspect was not expanded on more, but in all, an enjoyable book for readers of ‘The Bookshop of Second Chances’ by Jackie Fraser and ‘The Paris Library’ by J Charles.
About the author:
Nina George has a freelance journalist since 1992, who has published 28 books (novels, mysteries, and non-fiction) as well as over a hundred short stories and more than 600 columns. Nina George has worked as a reporter and columnist for a wide range of publications. In June 2019 she was elected as President of the European Writers ‘Council.