Time for the first book review of the year – and I got lucky and picked a really good book with which to start off the year!
Length: 370 pages of story, 392 pages total
Setting: France, present day
Interest: It was recommended by the She Reads blog as a book to make you happy. I put it on my reading list because it’s a book about a bookseller, which is an oddly specific genre that I happen to love. I picked it up because it happened to be on the endcap at the library when I was wandering about looking for books.
Summary: Jean Perdu runs a literary apothecary. It’s a bookstore in a floating barge where he recommends books to provide what you need. Sadly, he basically stopped living when his lover, Manon, left him 30 years ago. His shell starts to crack when Catherine moves in across the hall. Jean finally reads the letter Manon left behind. Turns out, she was dying of cancer, not giving up her lover because he wasn’t good enough. On a sudden impulse, Jean decides to take his barge through the canals of France to visit Manon’s family and get some closure. On the way, he picks up some riders that turn into friends – a best-selling author with writer’s block, an Italian tango dancer/chef, and an author looking for her next experience.
Final thoughts: I loved this book so much. It must be a good augury for the year to start out with such an enjoyable book. I loved the books Jean recommended and his reasons for them (there’s even a section at the end recommending books for readers of this book, as well as some recipes). I loved the awakening of Jean’s life on the boat with new friends and old memories, and always books. I loved how the writing involved all the senses. George writes very sensually about taste and smell and touch and you get a sense of the importance of the mind/body connection. There is some sadness because Jean lost so much by closing himself off from life, but there is also hopefulness, for himself and the lost souls he picks up on the barge. (In some ways, this reminded me a lot of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.) It’s also a deep look into a polyamorous relationship and its joys and difficulties.
Title comes from: The main character ran a bookstore in Paris
Reading challenges fulfilled: an L in my title Reading the Alphabet Challenge and #1 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge
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