Monday, 5 June 2017

"The Little Paris Bookshop" by Nina George

   The cover and the advertising for this book interested me.
   The protagonist is Jean Perdu, who owns a bookstore on a boat, moored on the Seine River.  He calls it a 'Literary Apothecary', where he listens to individual stories and prescribes a book to mend broken hearts and souls.
    Jean was thought to have " transperception": "You can see and hear through most people's camouflage.  And behind it you see all the things they worry and dream about, and the things they lack".
  I found this aspect of the novel fascinating.  Quotes such as: "Books are more than doctors, of course.  Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you've got those autumn blues.  And some... well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful void.  Like a short torrid love affair".
  On page 37, I read "Novels are for willpower, nonfiction for rethinking one's life, poems for dignity".  Then the novel went off the rails for me.
  Jean discloses how he has pined for a woman who left him 21 years ago.  He had begun an affair with her when she was planning to marry someone else, and continued the relationship for five years, in spite of her marriage to the other man.
  Jean took off on his boat, heading for the south of France.  A young, distraught author jumped on the boat with him.  They also picked up another man who was searching the rivers of France for his long-lost love.  The novel turned into 'three men on a boat', on a journey of personal discovery.  They relive all the sadness of their lives and the novel turns overly sentimental and sappy.  The initial theme of books as a curative is lost.
   The novel is advertised as "a love letter to books".  But that was only the first 40 pages, then it was "a journey of three love-sick men".
  At the end of the book, the author has two pages of book titles: 'Jean Perdu's Emergency Literary Pharmacy'.  I could have skipped from page 40 to the end.

No comments:

Post a Comment