Hello from an extremely cold and frosty Manchester, and a big welcome to all those who have recently joined my mailing list – I am very happy to meet you 🙂
Last year in November, I started featuring ARC’s on a monthly basis , and have received so much positive feedback, that I am fully convinced this will be a regular monthly feature on Between Pages from now on.
My February Book of the Month is one that I very briefly talked about in my Pre-Order List, but this will be a more detailed review, especially for those who messaged me saying how much they are looking forward to this book.
Breathing in the best smell in the world – a mélange of the mossy scent of musty books and crisp newspaper pages – I felt as if I’d come home
And so, we enter the world of Odile and the American Library in Paris.
We first meet Odile in Paris, in the late 1930’s when she is preparing to interview for her dream job as a librarian at the American Library in Paris. Fast forward about four decades, and Odile now lives in Montana in USA, a solitary life as a reclusive widow, but still surrounded by her beloved books.
Inspired by a true story, what follows, in the next 300 odd pages is a narrative that alternates between Paris and Montana, filling the gaps between these forty years, giving us an insight into wartime Paris, and how a handful of extremely courageous librarians stood up to the Nazis and the dreaded Book Gestapo.
“Delivering books will be our way of resisting”
What I Loved:
The Paris Library is written in a lyrical prose that is gentle and soothing. I felt at times that I was truly in a library in the company of books, sitting in a quiet corner, reading, taking notes and enjoying my solitude.
I also loved how Odile has been written – the author has delved deep into her background, her love for books and her relationships.
Additionally, although the author has spent considerable time setting up the scenes and the overall plot, Paris itself is described in little snatches – as a city on the threshold of a war, but charming as ever. I especially found this a really good way to ensure the reader gets a good insight into (one of the) main locations of the story, without wavering away too much from the main plot.
AND….!!!! The book is full of quotable quotes – one of my favourite quotes being:
No other thing possesses that mystical faculty to make people see with other people’s eyes. The Library is a bridge of books between cultures
If I could, I would take a highlighter to the entire book!
What was challenging:
Interestingly, what was challenging for me in this book was not what I disliked about the writing, rather, these were the bits which were challenging to read. I’m talking about the description of wartime Paris, and how Nazis looted libraries and destroyed books as they wanted to ‘eradicate the cultures of certain countries’, also how they seized and burned book collections of prominent Jewish families and the Bibliothekschutz inspecting libraries (loosely translated Library Protector but more commonly called the Book Gestapo).
The Paris Library truly is a tribute to book lovers everywhere.
Grab a cuppa, find your cosiest nook, and lose yourself in the world of books and libraries, and discover the power that books hold – the power to change lives, destinies and the world.
The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles releases 9th February 2021. A big thank you to Netgalley and John Murray Press for sending me an Advanced Readers Copy.
After the darkness of war, the light of books.
P.S. The Images in this post are not my own. Cover Image courtesy amazon.com, second image courtesy Goodreads.com