I love the premise of this book. Monsieur Perdu runs what he terms a "literary apothecary" -- a bookshop aboard a boat docked in Paris. He believes that books can heal people if they know the right books to read. Naturally, he knows exactly what books they need and suggests titles when those in need enter his shop.
I once fancied myself a Monsieur Perdu of sorts.
I used to work for Scholastic Book Fairs and traveled to area schools to do Book Talk assemblies. I'd highlight several of the books that would be featured on the book fairs, giving the students just enough information to entice them to read the books without giving away any endings. I often heard that such-and-such didn't like to read and I thought: he/she just hasn't been given the right book. And I'd try to find just the right book, whether it be Guinness World Records or Junie B. Jones, that would suddenly spark an interest in reading in that child.
I loved my job.
So I was naturally drawn to Monsieur Perdu and his literary apothecary. Especially when the first customer he treated was so like me.
A woman came into his shop and wanted to buy a popular bestseller, but Monsieur Perdu persuaded her not to buy it because it wasn't the right book for her; it wasn't what she needed. She was taken aback but finally consented and asked what book he would prescribe for her.
"You need your own room. Not too bright, with a kitten to keep you company. And this book, which you will please read slowly, so you can take the occasional break. You'll do a lot of thinking and probably a bit of crying. For yourself. For the years. But you'll feel better afterward. You'll know that now you don't have to die, even if that's how it feels because the guy didn't treat you well. And you will like yourself again and won't find yourself ugly or naïve."
Oh my god! I felt like the author, Nina George, had reached into my life and my psyche and pulled out exactly what I needed. I just went through a divorce, started redecorating, and told my daughter we'd get a kitten. I didn't care about the woman in the book. I wanted to know what book I needed to read that would touch me this way.
Monsieur Perdu's book reco? The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which has been sitting on my shelf unread for a year.
I couldn't wait to read the rest of this literary novel and see what other books he'd prescribe. I knew I'd have a stack of books to be read by the time I finished. But really -- what could be better than that? The only bad part about reading an engrossing novel like The Little Paris Bookshop is wondering what in the world you can follow it up with. Now I know. I've accumulated a whole little library to delve into next.
*I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.