“With all due respect, what you read is more important in the long term than the man you marry, ma chère Madame.” ~Monsieur Perdu in The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
I fell in love with the book The Little Paris Bookshop on page one. I suppose what Monsieur Perdu is saying is that the right books can stick with us for a lifetime on our own terms, longer than most loves. When I think of it that way, I guess it is true, at least for some people.
Monsieur Perdu owns a bookshop in Paris, a peculiar one on a barge in the middle of the Seine that he consider a literary apothecary. He’s a book doctor, or at least a book pharmacist, prescribing books to heal whatever ails his customers. I read the first few pages of the book while crossing the East River on New York City’s B train for a meeting in Brooklyn to chase a dream. In that moment, I moved Monsieur Perdu’s barge to the East River and for me, he prescribed a book to bolster my confidence and stoke my courage.
It’s clear in these few pages that Monsieur Perdu has lost someone he loved, that he spends his evenings in an apartment that used to be filled with love, laughter, and a cat. Now it’s just him surrounded by his familiar neighbors of 20 years whose lives echo through the walls. They’ve loved and lost, too. All of them.
Though the story starts on a sad note, I smiled while reading it because the connection to the characters and the emotions it evokes are exactly what I want my novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, to do. I want readers to know Emerson as quickly as I came to know Monsieur Perdu. I want them to root for her to be okay, to be better than okay, to be her own savior. The Little Paris Bookshop shows me that this is possible, a goal worth striving for.