Saturday, 17 November 2018

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
First published in German in Germany by Knaur Verlag in 2013. English language translation by Simon Pare published by Abacus in 2015.

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a 'literary apothecary', for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers.

The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust - until now. The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.

I'd been looking forward to reading The Little Paris Bookshop, even going so far as to put off reading it so the novel wouldn't be gone too quickly. I had imagined from the title and the cover art that it would be similar in atmosphere to an Antoine Laurain story and, to be honest, what could I not like about a novel set in a Parisian bookshop? As it turns out, there's a lot I didn't like!

The Little Paris Bookshop is actually mostly set on a barge, called Lulu, which sails from Paris fairly early on in the story so I lost the romance of the city. Lulu has been turned into a bookshop whose emotionally-damaged owner, Jean, sails south in order to come to terms with his heartbreak over a woman who left him twenty-one years ago. 21! Jean only realises he needed to do something about his obsessive grief when he falls in instalove with his new neighbour, Catherine. Catherine is distraught at having been kicked out by her husband so 'obviously' needs sappy Jean for a rebound relationship to Discover Herself. Jean shows his love by almost immediately sailing hundreds of miles away from her and sending back a series of postcards discussing himself, himself and himself. What woman could resist?

There are a couple of pleasant elements to The Little Paris Bookshop. I liked the descriptions of the rural France through which Jean and his friends sail and the copious amounts of delicious food they eat. I also liked Nina George's early comments on various books, many of which I have read. Unfortunately books soon take a back seat (so to speak) which is a shame. Instead a cast of shallow characters stagger through an increasingly schmaltzy and silly adventure. I couldn't believe in anyone and the piling up of forcedly Emotional Moments left me feeling increasingly cold. The Little Paris Bookshop is one I really should not have judged by its cover!

Etsy Find!
by Squid Ink Art Melbourne in
Kensington, Australia

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Books by Nina George / Womens fiction / Books from Germany


  1. Oh no! Thanks for the heads up about this one!

    1. I know other readers thought it charming, but I wasn't at all captivated!