Publication Date: June 23, 2015
The first 100 or so pages of The Little Paris Bookshop was very much like falling head over heels in love - enchantment, starry-eyed, heart-palpitating - you're the one, how can you know all my deepest, darkest secrets, where have you been all my life, you wonderful, magical book you. I already knew the standing ovation of a review I was going to write, even the headline: "THE ONLY BOOK YOU NEED TO READ."
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.
But, alas - and you knew there was going to be a but - the rest of the book was like falling down to earth when you realize all the faults of your gorgeous, intriguing new beloved.
Let's talk about what made me fall hard for The Little Paris Bookshop in the first place. To continue with the metaphor, the first 100 pages was like meeting a soulful, charming Frenchman in Paris bookshop. He knows just what you need, can talk passionately about Game of Thrones and Harry Potter, as well as Jose Saramago and E.M. Forster. He romances you with wine and croissants and isn't afraid to love deeply or cry in front of you. How refreshing he is!
But then the more you spend time with him, it becomes tougher for you to listen to him talk about the great love of his life and how he keeps crying over her. He is in the midst of his Eat, Pray, Love drama and it is a little tough to take. Despite the fact that he is taking you on a river journey down Provence, where the scenery is picture-perfect as a postcard and you make quirky friends along the way, it just doesn't have the same magic as your time in Paris.
STILL, despite the gentle letdown of the rest of the book, the first 100 pages is still better than anything else I've read all year or even farther than that. It is for anyone even vaguely bookish, for anyone who's ever turned to a book to soothe a broken heart, or for any emotional ailment.
Just like its charming protagonist, Jean Perdu, I believe that there are books for each person that is just right - that is what they need at that moment.
"...Sanary's Southern Lights was the only thing that pierced him without hurting. Reading Southern Lights was a homeopathic dose of happiness. It was the only balm that could ease Perdu's pain - a gentle, cold stream over the scorched earth of his soul."