Book Review of The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

368 pages

Published: 2/9/21 by Atria Books

Genre: Historical fiction

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Amazon | B&N

*Click on photos to view original source.

”Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife. 

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.”


Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an early digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

“Numbers floated round my head like stars.”


If you enjoy books about books, then you’ll absolutely adore this one. It’s all about the American Library in Paris, which is still up and running to this day. I enjoyed the female power and determination that takes place in the story. We love strong female roles. The writing is no doubt beautiful and well done. I believe that the author spends quite a bit of time in Paris, so I’d say it’s pretty accurate, if I had to guess. It’s overall a great novel, but it just didn’t keep my attention. Historical fiction typically captures my attention, but I never wanted to pick this one back up. It was honestly a two-star read up until the last 50-ish pages.

I didn’t really care for any of the characters even though I could recognize how tough they were. There’s a strong community and family dynamic that I think a lot of people would enjoy. It’s more of family by choice type of situation. I can appreciate all of that.

I think the main thing that caused me to give it three stars was that it felt too long. Whenever I thought the story was about to come to a close, there was quite a bit left in the story. I’m sure no one else felt that way, but when you’re already not enjoying a book, that’s something that makes it feel even longer.

I know this author has written one other novel, so I’m interested in seeing if it’s something I’m interested in. I’d definitely give her a second chance. I really thought I’d fall in love with this one. It’s such a wonderful read, but I couldn’t get myself to give it more than a three-star rating. I would still recommend this since it’s a beloved book to many readers out there.


Janet Skeslien Charles divides her time between Paris and Montana. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family. 

The backdrop of her debut novel MOONLIGHT IN ODESSA is the booming business of email-order brides, an industry where love and marriage meet sex and commerce. 

Her second novel THE PARIS LIBRARY is based on the true story of the courageous librarians at the American Library in Paris during World War II. Janet learned about the story when she worked at the Library.

Website: https://www.jskesliencharles.com


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Recently Acquired Library Books

Hello, friends! How’s your Friday going?

I work at my local library and I’m on vacation this week, so I didn’t think I’d pick up any physical books. I decided yesterday to see if I had anything waiting for me, and I did!

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman – “This is a poignant comedy about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.” Published by Atria Books – 9/8/20

The Arrangement by Robyn Harding – “Emotionally powerful and packed with page-turning suspense, The Arrangement delves into the sordid, all-too-real world of shadowy relationships between wealthy, powerful men and the young women who are caught in their web.” Published by Scout Press – 7/30/2019


Do you use your library very often? If so, what books do you have checked out currently?


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NetGalley Checklist: Books Being Published in April

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Publication: 4/7/20 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

368 pages

ISBN: 9780593085424

Goodreads blurb:

When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut. 

To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters

Publication: 4/7/20 by Atria Books

352 pages

ISBN: 9781982136116

Goodreads blurb:

In this fresh and hilarious historical rom-com, an estranged husband and wife in Regency England feign accidents and illness in an attempt to gain attention—and maybe just win each other back in the process.

The Big Finish by Brooke Fossey

Publication: 4/14/20 by Berkley

336 pages

ISBN: 9781984804938

Goodreads blurb:

In a funny, insightful, and life-affirming debut, Brooke Fossey delivers an unflinching look at growing old, living large, and loving big, as told by a wise-cracking man who didn’t see any of it coming.

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

Publication: 4/21/20 by Viking

432 pages

ISBN: 9780525429760

Goodreads blurb:

The Book of Longings is an inspiring account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place, and culture devised to silence her. 

The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence

Publication: 4/21/20 by Ace: Berkley Pub

384 pages

ISBN: 9781984805997

Goodreads blurb:

In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole into which broken children are thrown.

Only when it’s darkest you can see the stars.

He Started It by Samantha Downing

Publication: 4/28/20 by Berkley

384 pages

ISBN: 9780451491756

Goodreads blurb:

Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven’t all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we’ll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.

Thank you to all of the publishers / NetGalley for the early digital copies! I also won The Big Finish in a Goodreads giveaway, so thank you to Goodreads as well.

Let me know if any of you would be interested in the books being released each month on my NetGalley checklist! This way it would make these a decent length without listing ALL of them in one post.


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Blogmas Day 12: Author Interview with William Kent Krueger!

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Happy exciting BLOGMAS day 12!

I decided to stick my neck out one day and ask Atria Books if William Kent Krueger would be willing to answer some questions about his new novel This Tender Land for my blog. I woke up at 6 AM one morning to an email back from the author himself, accepting. I was so excited that I woke my boyfriend up from a deep slumber.

Thank you to Atria Books for forwarding the request. Thank you to William Kent Krueger for taking time out of his day to answer my questions and for being a kind person overall. I will remember this forever. 

I hope you all enjoy learning about this incredible novel and the mastermind behind it! I had a lot of fun. I even bought myself a signed B&N exclusive edition of This Tender Land, and I’m excited to display it on my shelves.

Links to my review for This Tender Land:

Blog | Instagram | Goodreads

Q&A

1. I read on your website that you researched childhood development at the University of Minnesota. All the children in ​This Tender Land ​ are very well developed, but I was curious to know if you learned anything new from creating characters like Odie and Mose?

WKK: I learn something new with every character I create in any story I write. For me, it’s like running into someone new and getting to know them. They have much to offer as characters, not just as elements of the story. In creating the Four Vagabonds, I learned lessons in forgiveness, lessons about grief, lessons about family and friendship. I have a lot of input on my own, of course, but the characters themselves dictate so much, and I try to give them plenty of room to breathe and act and grow.

2. I work at a library and have noticed an increase in books involving Native American characters/culture. What inspired you to write about white brothers in an all Indian school?

WKK: For more than twenty years, in my Cork O’Connor mystery series, I’ve dealt with issues that are significant to the Native community. The tragic history of the Native American boarding school system is something I’ve been aware of for a very long time. In the early stages of conceiving the story for This Tender Land, I knew that I wanted the orphans to be running from a horrific environment. I couldn’t think of anything more horrific than life in one of these boarding schools. And because I knew from the beginning that one of the kids on the odyssey the Vagabonds were going take would be Native American, it all fit together nicely.

3. Was there a specific building/place that gave you inspiration for the Lincoln Indian Training School?

WKK: I drew a lot of inspiration from the Pipestone Indian Training School, which was situated in southwestern Minnesota, but is no longer in existence. The physical layout and many of the specific elements, however, were an amalgam of elements I gleaned from my research involving many other boarding schools.

4. This novel discusses a lot about the land and the environment around these children as they make their long arduous journey to St. Louis. Is there a deeper meaning behind that?

WKK: Any good story, I believe, ought to be a doorway to a consideration of ideas and themes that have universal appeal and application. So, in my conception of the novel and what it might be, I saw the river journey representing all kinds of odysseys—spiritual, emotional, even physical. And I also believe that any good story ought to leave itself open to multiple interpretations. Readers ought to be able to read into it whatever their own lives and perceptions direct them to see. It’s not unusual for readers to point out to me something they found of significance that went completely over my head in the actual writing of the story. But once they bring it to my attention, I can see where they’re coming from.

5. I love that Odie is a storyteller. When you were brainstorming ideas for the book, did you already know he would be a storyteller? If not, was there something else he was going to be known for?

WKK: I knew all along that Odie would narrate the story, but that he was also a storyteller was something I only discovered once I began the actual writing. It seemed a natural part of his being. In the same way, I discovered the nature of Albert and Mose and all the complexity that is Emmy. Composing this story was just as much a journey for me as it was for any of the Four Vagabonds.

6. There are a ton of diverse characters throughout the book. My favorite being Herman Volz. He truly was an upstanding guy. Do you have a favorite character? Did it change while writing the book?

WKK: I always identified with Odie. There’s so much of who I am in that wonderful kid. Although I adored all the Vagabonds (and I understand your appreciation of Herman Volz), my favorite, start to finish, was Odie.

About the Author

William Kent Krueger

*Photo is from his website.

William Kent Krueger is the author of This Tender Land, published on September 3rd, 2019. He also wrote a stand-alone novel called Ordinary Grace, published March 23rd, 2013, winner of the Edgar Award. His Cork O’Connor mystery series is also a winner of many awards, including the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, the Minnesota Book Award, the Anthony Award, the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award, and the Friends of American Writer’s Prize. Krueger briefly studied at Stanford University, then dabbled in numerous jobs—freelance journalism, construction, and logging timber—before becoming a writer. He even studied childhood development at the University of Minnesota. Krueger makes his living as a full-time author and lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his lovely wife Diane, a retired attorney. You can learn more about him and his novels on his website​: https://williamkentkrueger.com/


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