The Little Paris Bookshop (2016)

by Nina George

The Little Paris Bookshop has an interesting premise: a middle-aged bookseller dispenses emotional advice as he sells books, matching buyers with books to heal their maladies. But Jean Perdu, the proprietor of the moored boat-turned-bookshop on the Seine, hasn’t been able to overcome his own depression.

When we find out that he’s been depressed for 20 years, and why, the book starts to lose credibility. His lover Manon had left him without explanation two decades before. When she sent him a letter weeks after, Jean put it in a drawer of a desk he then locked in the locked room that was Manon’s favorite. He doesn’t read the letter until he donates the desk to a neighbor who needs furniture, and then he finds out that Manon was dying of cancer. Now feeling guilty as well as grief-stricken, Jean unmoors his floating bookshop and sets out down the Seine to Manon’s home in the south of France. It was there that Manon returned to die — to her husband, whom Jean knew about all along. He would always have been the other man in Manon’s life, and yet he’s not been able to get over her and have another relationship.

The Little Paris Bookshop was a bestseller, probably because it hit the right notes with its happy ending, eccentric characters (Jean excepted), and travelogue of the Seine. But it’s predicable as well as unbelievable.


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