At a glance, Nina George's The Little Paris Bookshop may seem innocuous enough. In fact, if you were just judging it by its title and cover (and you'd never do that, would you? I know I wouldn't.), you might think it's just a sweet, bookish love story. And you'd be right. But you'd also be wrong.
I'm going to go ahead and say that this novel was one of the most emotionally resonant books I've read in quite some time. Nina George has a way of turning a phrase that can take your breath away, leaving you sitting quietly stunned and thinking, "That's me. How does she know that part of me? I never had words for that before, and she knows it perfectly." And while your mileage may vary, I was up until the wee hours finishing the second half of the book in a single sitting, and tears ran down my face for a good portion of those pages.
Monsieur Perdu (direct translation: Mr. Lost) had his heart broken two decades ago, when his lover left him forever, leaving him only with a single letter that he cannot bear to read. Instead, he puts the letter in a table drawer and seals the room that the table is in, then tries to go about his business of selling books aboard his floating Literary Apothecary barge/bookshop. Monsieur Perdu has a gift for prescribing the very book to soothe what emotionally ails his customers, but he has not been able to do this for himself, save for a novel written by an anonymous author which has been his lifeline for twenty years.
Every day is the same for Monsieur Perdu, until a woman, left by her husband and adrift in misery, moves in across the hall from him. She hasn't a single stick of furniture, and so he loans her his table, and she finds the letter he has been unable to read. Upon receiving this letter back, Perdu is finally moved to action for the first time in years, leaving Paris on a mission to finally put to rest his years of misery. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, among others, Perdu travels France's waterways, using books in trade, learning about life outside of his city, and ultimately confronting the ghosts he had avoided for so long. This is a must for romantics, for readers and lovers of books. Let yourself be swept up by it--you'll be the better for it.