Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Chasing Sylvia Beach” as Want to Read:
Chasing Sylvia Beach
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Chasing Sylvia Beach

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  129 ratings  ·  40 reviews
An impromptu trip to the City of Light carries a young bookseller to 1937 Paris. But it’s not the friendly literary community she had imagined and Lily Heller becomes a character inside the world that she had fantasized about—but with chilling consequences.

In her quest to return home, Lily throws herself on the mercy of legendary Shakespeare and Company bookseller Sylvia
Paperback, First, 375 pages
Published June 22nd 2012 by Original Impulse, Inc. (first published January 1st 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Chasing Sylvia Beach, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Chasing Sylvia Beach

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I wanted something light to read and found this novel lurking on my Kindle. When and why I downloaded it I no longer remember. However, it was probably because of the title and it's possible that I saw the paperback edition in Shakespeare and Company when I was in Paris a couple of years ago. Anyway, I'm a huge Sylvia Beach fan, so it's not surprising that the book attracted my attention.

I got what I wanted in terms of the book being a light read. However, otherwise it was a disappointment. One
Alyson Stanfield
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Disclaimer: Cynthia is my friend.

But I've read books by friends that I don't enjoy. And I really enjoyed this! It was perfect to read on my summer vacation. I loved running in to all of the personalities and seeing them through Lily's eyes.

I have since shared the book with two other people who also really liked it. I can't wait to get it back so I can share it with more people.

The only bummer is that now I'm ready for the sequel. Waiting . . . waiting.
May 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favs
Loves this book!!! Five stars and a must read for anyone who loves paris!

Chasing Sylvia Beach by Cynthia Morris

From the Publisher...

Lily Heller’s affaire de coeur with Paris has existed almost as long as her love for books. Smitten with the city’s literary Golden Age of the twenties, the young bookstore clerk from Denver dreams of a life like that of bold expatriate Sylvia Beach, who founded the famed Shakespeare and Company bookshop and became her own literary legend. An impromptu trip to the C
Kathleen Pooler
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Cynthia Morris’ fast-paced, intriguing romantic fantasy, Chasing Sylvia Beach, transports us to 1937 Paris where a twenty-something protagonist Lily Heller travels back in time from her modern, directionless life as a bookstore clerk in Denver to prewar Paris where she finds herself seeking out her heroine, Sylvia Beach. Sylvia founded the Shakespeare and Company Bookshop. Lily has researched the life and times of Sylvia Beach in her current life. The time travel becomes a metaphor for connectin ...more
Sarah Chamberlain
May 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I received this books from the author, Cynthia Morris, in a Goodreads giveaway. The premise, that of time travel into the past in order to positively influence history through the strategic and deliberate moving around of books, intrigued me, as did Sylvia Beach. I had not heard of Beach but learned that she was a real person who moved to Paris well before World War II and opened a bookstore there called Shakespeare and Company. Her store became the site of author readings by the likes of James ...more
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I waited in eager anticipation for this novel having followed Cynthia for years. As I began reading, I was engrossed from the very beginning. I didn't want Chasing Syliva Beach to end! In fact, for about a week I wouldn't pick up the book to finish the last two chapters because I knew I would be sad to say goodbye to all the wonderful characters in this fun and adventurous novel.

The details and descriptions are so well written that I felt like I was truly in Paris without leaving my Adirondack c
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
After devouring the book Chasing Sylvia Beach, I want more adventures of Lily Heller! As another reviewer stated, I can hardly wait for the sequel. Cynthia Morris' "baby" novel has done her proud. (Although at 300+ pages, it is no small baby.)
Robin Pedrero
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Pure delight and adventure! I adore time travel and my imagination went soaring.
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Initially, I thought this book was a year or two too late to be completely original, but as I read further into it, I found that Cynthia Morris has crafted her own very unique and original time-traveling character in Lily Heller and set the stage for an entire series of various adventures for literature/history lovers. Similar to the movie Midnight in Paris, but yet very different, our protagonist finds herself unwittingly transported to Paris, 1937, to Sylvia Beach's bookshop, Shakespeare & ...more
Karen Rutherford
Jul 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was so happy to have held this book in my hands. I was even happier to read it! Lily Heller is a captivating character I cared about from the start. I enjoyed getting to know Sylvia Beach, Gertrude Stein, and the other famous and not-so-famous, while being transported by the mystery's fun twists and turns. I wish Lily well in all her adventures to come and thank Cynthia Morris for inviting this reader along! It was a perfect read for a Sunday afternoon.
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
At first I was slightly leery of another time travel book, but I enjoyed it thoroughly from the first page to the last. The saga of Lily Heller is rich and complex on many levels. The historical presentation of Paris during the Nazi occupation is gripping and completely believable. I'm so glad that Cynthia Morris took on this topic and I'm SO GLAD I read it.
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great summer read. Captivating characters + fun to get whisked away to pre-WW2 Paris. Hope this is not the end of Lily Heller + crew....
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
Paris 1937 was brought alive by this beautiful, evocative, delightful and wonderful book. I do so hope there will be more Lily Heller books.
Marika Gillis
May 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
At the beginning of this novel, the reader is thrust into Lily's life just as she has been transported back in time to Paris in the 1930s. She wakes to find herself in the renowned bookshop, Shakespeare Co., that is run by Lily's longtime idol, Sylvia Beach. For days Lily wanders the streets of Paris, trying to figure out why and how she has been transported back in time and waiting for a special event at Shakespeare & Co. for which she has found an invitation in her dress. While sorting out ...more
Aimee Jodoin
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
When 23-year-old book store clerk Lily Heller gets off the airplane in Paris, she expects to arrive in the present day, but to her great surprise and puzzlement, she arrives in a pre-WWII 1937 Paris that’s much different from the city she knew in her study-abroad days. With no money and no clue how or why she got there, Lily attempts to find solace in the book store of her personal hero, expatriate Sylvia Beach. She begins to think she’ll never make it back to her life in 2010, but after befrien ...more
Vera Marie
Aug 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Hasn’t every lover of books and lover of Paris said, “What I would give to spend time in Paris during the pre-World War II days when all those famous writers gathered at Shakespeare and Company bookshop?”

In Chasing Sylvia Beach , a 23-year-old book seller from Denver gets her chance to live that fantasy. Note: Cynthia Morris was once a bookseller in Denver who traveled to Paris many times, studied Sylvia Beach, but as far as we know, time-traveled only in her imagination. The novel follows Lily
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Readers interested in Time Travel
Recommended to Maria by: For a book discussion
Shelves: fiction, war-themes
I anticipated reading this book after reading Ernest Hemingway’s A Movable Feast. Of all the independent and chain bookstores that have thrived and fallen throughout the ages, it’s rare that the reputation of one continues for decades beyond its closing. As a result I was excited to read the book.

I’m not a science fiction/fantasy reader for the most part. Time travel doesn’t get me excited when I’m reading it, and I think it reflects a lack of writing skill on the part of the author. At some poi
Oct 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I bought this book at the actual Shakespeare & Co. the last time I visited Paris. The premise was very appealing: a young woman falls asleep on a plane while traveling to Paris in 2010, but wakes up at Shakespeare & Co. in 1937! With no passport, money, or friends, she must use her wits to unravel the mystery of how & why this happened, and to somehow return to modern day life. Over the course of the story, she befriends Sylvia Beach, gets a job at Shakespeare & Co., and meets se ...more
Carol Lyn
Jun 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2013
3 of 5 stars, liked it, would read author again

Time travel to WWII era Paris – Shakespeare & Co was done well. I was worried that it would feel too fantasy-like but it wasn’t at all. The interaction with well known’s of the times within the bookshop was fun to read, but just as fun was the relationship development with Paul and Lily coming to find a place in the city during her “mission”. The most fascinating aspect (to me) was the idea of protecting rare and collected books and the history
I really wanted to like this book. I tried, desperately and to no avail, to like this book. It wasn't terrible it was just lacking something I cannot put my thumb on. I like books where I keep turning the pages because I HAVE to know what is next. This book made me feel as though I needed to turn to the next page in hopes that there would be more to the story on the next page. The main character, Lily, was simply uninspiring. She seemed a little vapid and very emotionless, maybe even callous, to ...more
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book made me want to read more about Sylvia Beach and her friends and acquaintances. I have recently become interested in this time period-probably because of all the mysteries I have been reading that take place around then and possibly because I missed the two World Wars in history class. Can't imagine what I was thinking about. Lily, the heroine has traveled back to 1930's Paris-she worries about the non interfering rules of time travel-she is very American and very now but somehow she g ...more
Kelsea Dawn Hume
I'm generally a fan of accidental time travel involving historical figures, but this one just didn't work for me. I liked Morris's loving descriptions of Paris, and her portrayals of certain literary titans as inconsiderate jerks, but the plot was slow and the protagonist was nearly too stupid to survive. And I have to admit I was a bit disappointed that this wasn't a book about a woman traveling back in time and wooing Sylvia Beach.
Kate Robertson
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-s-fiction
This novel was a fun read. Take an interesting historical figure, a young girl, 1937 Paris , some time travel and a mystery and you have the basics of Morris's novel. I enjoyed the travel back in time to Paris before the war and meeting Sylvia Beach. She was quite a fascinating woman.

I have been following Cynthia through her blog for years and hearing about this novel in progress. it was a delight to finally be able to read it.
Jun 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
My intrigue over Sylvia beach and Shakespeare and company led me to this book. The local author (Denver) created a highly imaginative story time traveling rescuer of lost literature (think Hemingway's lost suitcase.) She even suggests that Hitler could've done even more damage if he had acquired a book on the dark arts which the time traveling woman saved from his possession. Although the writing was not the best, the subject matter and story line made up for it.
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I hope to review this book soon in fuller detail, but for now, I have to say I really enjoyed the story of protagonist Lily Heller very much. The time-travel aspect of this book is a literary technique or device I like experiencing in a book, and this novel is no exception.

More soon, but this one is worth taking a look at!
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
The book is fun, well written and charming. Upon finishing it, I immediately want to leave the rain drenched of Bombay and book a trip to Paris.

Bonus, I am nearly as obsessed with the Lost generation as the protagonist, fun fun read. I would like a little more background into this "Athenaum Neuf"...hope this is book 1 of a series...
Shannon Marie
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this story. It is an engrossing, detailed, smart and fun one and you can feel the ease with which Cynthia writes. I LOVE the Paris genre and am very, VERY pleased with the storytelling and history involved. Thank you Cynthia for such a great read!
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this book because it encompasses so many of my interests: Paris, Shakespeare and Company, the American expat writers of the 1920's; but the book was slow and I had a hard time engaging with the characters.
Jul 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Fun, entertaining read about a young woman who finds herself in Paris in 1937 on a journey to save a rare book and to find herself. Certainly fun for those who are interested in Paris's literary history.
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Was given this book by a friend. What a gift. Took me away to fun place. And isn't that what reading is all about! I have shared this book repeatedly and always
Got it back with a smell and a big thanks.
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Shakespeare and Company
  • Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties
  • Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company
  • Paris Was a Woman: Portraits from the Left Bank
  • Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co.
  • Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s
  • The Ink Drinker
  • A Blazing Gilded Age
  • The Canvas
  • Benét's Reader's Encyclopedia
  • Rachel's Secret (The Rachel Trilogy #1)
  • Buried in Books: A Reader's Anthology
  • Gazelle
  • Readings: Essays and Literary Entertainments
  • The Anatomy of Bibliomania
  • Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Book store
  • The Librarian
  • A Violet Season
Sometimes we just want to be left alone with a good book. As a girl, I was lucky – both of my parents worked outside the home. That meant many afternoons as a ‘latchkey’ child – and many happy hours alone with books.

Books expanded my small town Ohio world and gave me a rich experience of imagination and exploration. Beyond reading, I was drawn to catalogue my books. I kept a log of what I read an