The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles
Published: 2/9/21 by Atria Books
Genre: Historical fiction
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”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.
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