Book Review | The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Book Review | The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George


The Little Paris Bookshop contains beautiful montages and depictions of French scenery, waterways, and cities, combined with a storyline that alludes to the loss of love, reflecting, regrets, and new beginnings in love. At least, that's ultimately what I got from reading the book. (Or, rather, the parts of the book that I actually enjoyed reading). But for the love of books, where is the actual 'love of books' concept that this was promising me? The wonderful, magical and original premise of a literary apothecary, owned by a man named Jean Perdu, who prescribes literature to people as a kind of medicinal cure to assuage for any hardships they may have, unfortunately had really missed the boat (pun intended - it was lame, sorry). 😁

It missed the boat, because I just wasn’t seeing much of the concept of books being healing remedies - it sadly made up a very minimal portion of the actual story, in fact. So, while intrigued by the ‘love letter to books’ blurb I had read about this online, I kept waiting for that bookish element to curate and build on itself in the first half of this novel, and to possibly find out more about Jean’s altruistic nature and his abilities with prescribing books and the process behind it all, with maybe even a couple stories of people whose lives changed from literature and how that healing process with books had cultivated within them. By the middle of the book, I gave up hope.

It all begins with a letter from the bookseller Perdu’s lost lover, Manon, and the lady with no furniture named Catherine who takes up a temporary residence across the hall from Perdu in 27 Rue Montagnard. As events stiltingly unfold, we are left with an inane (just my opinion) middle-aged man who, twenty some odd years later, is still pining over a fling he had with a married woman and is trying to overcome his despair, but usually just gets lost in his introspective thoughts of a long lost love. Love...yeah, we’ll call it that...

In an effort to rid himself of the grief and despair, and to come to terms with his choices, he unmoors his book barge from the harbor and hauls it on a journey through the Seine, accompanied by the young hearthrob best-selling author with writer’s block (and earmuffs!), Max, and two cats. So, they meet people, and loose ends in Perdu’s story with Manon may or may not tie together, some interesting things (and not so interesting things) happen with Max, but in the end, this was pretty much a tart of a novel that claimed to have depth, but fell short, due to the unshakable lack of character development.

Seriously, I’m not intentionally making this book sound ridiculous. And there were some parts I liked.

Imagery & Setting

We get nice glimpses of Apremont, where the men meet Cuneo’s friends, and Sanary was Perdu’s final destination to face his past since he first unmoored his book barge to sail the waterways, and they had also made their way to Provence where there was a fun tango scene in the novel (it was probably the only time these characters had really cut it loose throughout the development of the whole story). Learning about Cuisery Village du Livre, the village of books, was my personal favorite segment, so there's some actual facts of cities in France sprinkled throughout the novel that you may enjoy reading, as I did.

The imagery put me exactly right in the place, and was masterfully done. George's descriptions of the various cities and their charms made me feel a certain type of wanderlust, and I think her poetic tone while describing those sights really was one of the high points of the novel.

Narration & Tone

The story is told in third-person singular, although I do think a story with such a sentimental atmosphere, along with sulking tones and first hand experiences such as this could very well have benefited from being told in first-person narration from Jean Perdu’s perspective instead. As the reader, I felt an odd disconnect with most, if not all of the characters and the narrator. Almost like there was a veil between me and the story, and I couldn't get past it to immerse myself in their lives. I'm not sure if it was an intentional literary device on George's part, but if it was, it proved to be very ineffective for me as the reader. Manon’s character was flat, one-dimensional, as was Jean Perdu’s character. And when the leading cast falls flat, the story just can’t be helped much.


I couldn't help but feeling a bit hoodwinked after reading this, as I felt that it was a bit too much like a soap opera, and not enough of what I expected it to be from reading the excerpt. The ending felt rushed, and (spoiler) Perdu's new romance with Catherine, and Max's new relationship at the end happened in an entirely laughable two days or so (end spoiler). There were some good quotes strewn throughout, along with a seemingly original not-your-average-bookseller premise, and George's attention to detail for imagery in places and scenery are vivid and nicely written, much like reading a travelogue for cities in France. If you like that element, along with a romance soap opera setting, you may like this novel. However, her attention to characters was a bit less than stellar, and could use some work, as their antics and personalities throughout the story were a bit ridiculous, and very laughably unrealistic, in my opinion. It was this alone that made me not particularly enjoy reading it, unfortunately.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I read, appreciate, and try to reply to each one!
In an effort to improve blog content for my readership, so that I can blog about things you actually want to see, I approve comments as long as they are genuine! Blog links are welcome, but no spam, please. Leave any feedback or questions you have about the content you're commenting on - and oh! You can also email me at barcelonista1221@gmail.com

01 09 10