Bonjour! Today, we’re going to France!

It’s been awhile since I’ve sat down and written a post for my blog. But then again, it’s been awhile since I’ve done anything worth writing about. However today, I decided to go back to my roots and write a book review. Last night I finally finished reading “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George after 2 months of pushing through. I hate that it took me so long, but I think it was the result of just too little interest and not enough time. Not that I'm saying it was a bad book! 

Anyways, here is the Amazon summary of the book: 

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.

The thing about this book is that it is SUPER French. It takes place in France, the characters are French, the cuisine is French, and the narrative and romanticism of the writing itself just oozes a French feel. And because the book is kind of like an ode to books in general, I thought I’d love it. Unfortunately, I did not love it, but don’t let that deter you from reading this book because I didn’t hate it either. Let me break it down for you.

As the summary says, the book follows Jean Perdu who owns a floating bookstore from which he prescribes books for every occasion. With the ability to understand his customer’s hearts and understand their needs, the books he prescribes to them are sure to touch their souls. He is the literary apothecary after all. However, there lies one problem. Though he can heal others hearts, he cannot heal his own. For years, he’s shoved all his misery, his heartbreak, and anger behind a locked door and forbidden himself to acknowledge his past. And because of this, he has forgotten how to live his life, and the years have flown by. 

After this door finally opens and the letter containing the answers to his past is finally read, he decides that it is time to set off on a journey to the woman who has haunted his heart. The story of Jean Perdu is a riveting one of self-discovery and healing and readers will surely learn a lot about life as they follow him on a journey to the south of France, meeting strange new people and experiencing even stranger new joys of life.  

Like I said, I really really really wanted to like this book. The idea of a literary apothecary traveling through France just sounded so incredibly fun and cute. I mean, it’s a book about loving books! However, the things that I found unappealing were the things I mentioned before. The writing was super romantic and super heavy on sweet descriptions, such as: 

“Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you’ve got those autumn blues. And some . . . well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful void.” He should know.

If there’s anything you should know about me, it’s that I’m not a huge romantic and I hate fluff. Most of the time I can’t even make it through a Nicholas Sparks movie, so lines like “...some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain...” is just too much for me. Additionally, it seemed like every heavily sweet sentence like that lead to a philosophical revelation, which also became too much for me sometimes. Also, I felt like the book had a lot of clichés and tropes... Now that I think about it, the book kind of did just feel like a Nicholas Sparks work. 

Now, if you happen to like Nicholas Sparks' books and movies, this book would be perfect for you. I can see some of my more romantically inclined friends reading this book on the beach with a refreshing mimosa or Rosé in hand. Like I said, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. There were definitely parts in the story that tugged on my heartstrings or made me laugh, and there were plenty of insightful quotes that I highlighted. Additionally, if you have a love of travel, this could definitely appeal to you. Throughout the book, we’re taken to lush vineyards, sparkling oceans, through streets looking for pastries, and even taken on naked horse rides through the woods. Yeah, you read that right. Naked horse rides through the woods. 

The book tackles subjects such as death, love, youth, and forgiveness, and offers new perspectives on living a full life. Overall, I’d say this book was a solid 3 stars, but I think whether this book shines or not depends on the reader. For me, who hates flowery writing and romance heavy stories, this book wasn’t too enjoyable. But for my friends who love to get lost in these types of stories, I think this book would be a solid 5 stars for them. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so are books. And I think what I just wrote is fitting, considering Jean Perdu’s whole job is about finding the right book for each person. Maybe this book just wasn’t meant for me. 

But it could be for you, so if you’re intrigued at all by all means read it. Who knows? It might just be the book that heals your soul. 


*Some of my favorite quotes and passages from the book*

They breathed and watched as the world came and went. Some stars had seen the dinosaurs and the Neanderthals; they had seen the pyramids rise and Columbus discover America. For them, the earth was one more island world in the immeasurable ocean of outer space, its inhabitants microscopically small. 

It was said that their purring could patch a pail of broken bones back together and revive a fossilized soul; yet when their work was done, cats would go their own way without a backward glance. They loved without reticence, no strings attached- but no promises either. 

How would friends and lovers get by without the concierges of this world? Who knows, maybe each of us has a specific role in the great book of life. Some of us love particularly well; others look after lovers particularly well. 

Where did the last twenty years go? The south is a vivid blue, Catherine. Your color is missing here. It would make everything shine all the more brightly. 

However, what I do know now, now that this moment I have craved has arrived, is that it’s easier to fall asleep with you in my life. And to wake up. And to love. 

The reality of love is better than its reputation

Shouldn’t we carry on living the same way until the last, because that is what vexes death the most- to see us drinking life to the final draft?

“...Kitchen solace- the feeling that a delicious meal is simmering on the kitchen stove, misting up the windows, and that at any moment your lover will sit down to dinner with you and, between mouthfuls, gaze happily into your eyes. (Also known as living.)”

Published by Rachel Shin