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The Little Paris Bookshop

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“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people's lives.

392 pages, Hardcover

First published April 26, 2013

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About the author

Nina George

63 books1,957 followers
ENG (for German Bio please scroll down).

Born 1973 in Bielefeld, Germany, Nina George is a prize-winning and bestselling author (“Das Lavendelzimmer” – “The Little Paris Bookshop”) and freelance journalist since 1992, who has published 26 books (novels, mysteries and non-fiction) as well as over hundred short stories and more than 600 columns. George has worked as a cop reporter, columnist and managing editor for a wide range of publications, including Hamburger Abendblatt, Die Welt, Der Hamburger, “politik und kultur” as well as TV Movie and Federwelt. Georges writes also under three pen-names, for ex “Jean Bagnol”, a double-andronym for provence-based mystery novels.

In 2012 and 2013 she won the DeLiA and the Glauser-Prize. In 2013 she had her first bestselling book “Das Lavendelzimmer”, translated in 27 langues and sold more than 500.000 copies.

In November 2011, Nina George established the “JA zum Urheberrecht” (YES on Author’s Rights) initiative, which supports the rights of authors, artists and entertainers and is dedicated to resolving issues within the literary community as well as establishing fair and practical rights-license models for the web-distribution. 14 writers’ associations and 27 publishing partners have since joined the JA…-Initiative. George supports the “Initiative Urheberrecht” (Author’s Rights Initiative—www.urheber.info) as well as the “gib 8 aufs Wort”-campaign of the VG Wort.

In August 2014 George initiated the Amazon-protest in Germany www.fairer-buchmarkt.de, where overs 2000 germanspeaking authors – Nobelprizewinnig Elfriede Jelinek or Bestsellingauthor Nele Neuhaus – sign an open letter to Jeff Bezos and Amazon, protesting against the banned-book-methods of the giant retailer in the Hachette/Bonnier-dispute.

In 2015 George is the founder of the Initiative Fairer Buchmarkt e.V., which supports questions of law in daily business of authors – for ex in contracts, fees or author’s rights and e-Business.

George is Member to PEN, Das Syndikat (association of German-language crime writers), the Association of German Authors (VS), the Hamburg Authors’ Association (HAV), BücherFrauen (Women in Publishing), the IACW/AIEP (International Association of Crime Writers), the GEDOK (Association of female artists in Germany), PRO QUOTE and Lean In. Nina George sits on the board of the Three Seas Writers’ and Translaters’ Council (TSWTC), whose members come from 16 different countries.

Nina George teaches writing at Literaturbüro Unna, Alsterdamm Kunstschule, Wilhelmsburger Honigfabrik, where she coaches young people, adults and professional authors.
George also moderates (bilingual) readings and works as a speaker.


find me also on Facebook:



Die mehrfach ausgezeichnete Publizistin Nina George, geboren 1973, veröffentlichte bisher 23 Romane, Krimis, Science-Thriller sowie ca. 88 Kurzgeschichten und über 500 Kolumnen.

Ihr Pseudonym Anne West gehört zu den erfolgreichsten deutschsprachigen Erotika-Autorinnen.
Für ihren Roman Die Mondspielerin wurde George mit der DeLiA 2011, dem Literaturpreis für den besten Liebesroman des Jahres, ausgezeichnet. Mit dem Wendekrimi Das Licht von Dahme war George 2010 für den Friedrich-Glauser-Preis nominiert. Sie gewann ihn 2012 mit dem in Nigeria angesiedeltem Fußballkrimi „Das Spiel ihres Lebens“.

George gründete 2011 die Initiative „JA zum Urheberrecht“, mit der sie sich aktiv für die Rechte aller Kreativarbeiter und Kulturschaffenden gegen die Mentalität der Gratiskultur im Internet einsetzt.

Sie ist Mitglied im Syndikat, den Mörderischen Schwestern sowie des Verbands deutscher Schriftsteller.
Nina George lebt im Hamburger Grindelviertel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 13,252 reviews
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
September 26, 2020
”Books keep stupidity at bay. And vain hopes. And vain men. They undress you with love, strength and knowledge. It’s love from within.”

People read for lots of different reasons. They want to be entertained. They want a book to explain what is wrong with them or a confirmation of what they think is wrong with their spouse. They read for information. They read for an experience outside themselves. They read to escape the drudgery of their lives.

Sometimes I don’t understand why people read at all because they don’t seem to like much of what they read.

Are they reading the wrong things? Are they judgemental, narrow focused individuals? Are they frustrated writers? Maybe they can only like their perception of perfection, and any deviation from that by the author must be punished? Maybe they haven’t read broadly enough? Maybe they miss the road maps that connect one book to many other books?

Maybe they need some time on the Literary Apothecary, and just maybe Jean Perdu can help them, but...then... maybe not.

I do know, and Jean Perdu would be very disappointed to discover this, that negative reviews get more likes and comments on Goodreads than positive reviews. People flock to these reviews and laud the reviewer for being so “honest.” You would think that only negative reviews are honest reviews. There are reviewers on GR who love ripping classics apart, gleefully throwing the entrails of the book over their shoulders while they take bites out of the pulsing heart to the hearty applause of those who, for whatever reason, did not like the book. Maybe they didn’t like the book because a teacher asked them to read it, or maybe the language is too archaic, or they perceive that the ideas expressed are too cliche (now, but not when the book was first printed). Whatever the reason, the expressions of hatred and dislike are...well...unbecoming of whom I perceive readers should be.

For the record, every review I write is “honest.” I don’t shill for anyone, but I am a great lover of books, and maybe what I’m guilty of is enjoying what there is to savor in any book over what are perceived weaknesses.

Balzac had a character in Lost Illusions who wrote positive and negative reviews of the same book for different publications. It is easy to write a negative review he explains: simply take the strengths of any book and present them as weaknesses.

I could write a sneering review of this book very easily. I could focus on what a fool Perdu is or dismiss him as a man confusing lust with love or being too romantic or condemn him for giving up just when he needed to be strong. The reviewers seem to be evenly split on this book between 1 star and 5 stars, baffling really that readers who have books in common can be so far apart on their assessment. Not every book is for every reader, but the reactions to this book are fascinating to me.

There are things about Perdu that drive me crazy. Let’s start with the fact that he has a letter that was left for him by his lover Manon when she left him many years ago.

He’s never opened it.

How can he not open it?!

This has left him in a half life. He hears the lives of his fellow Parisian apartment dwellers, but never participates himself. ”The snatches of life the could be overheard in the house at number 27 Rue Montagnard were like the sea lapping the shores of Perdu’s silent isle.”

He doesn’t want to be crushed and is willing to live a shadow life rather than read the letter and discover the truth of why she left him. My imagination would drive me crazy. I would concoct much worse reasons for why my lover has left me than whatever the real reason is. I’d have to read the letter, but then by not reading the letter when he should have read the letter is what drives the plot of the novel.

When he reads the letter, he comes unmoored.


He runs a bookshop called the Literary Apothecary, which is on a houseboat. He is known far and wide as the literary pharmacist who places the book the reader needs most in their hands. This causes some rather awkward scenes when he won’t sell a book, that he feels is the wrong book, to a customer.

His need to escape himself is so intense that he doesn’t think about food or clothes or money. He just shoves off and starts his quest to run to Manon. His writer friend, Max, happens to be one step ahead of an admiring gaggle of readers when he demands to be allowed to come along.

Fame weighs heavily on Max. One thing that both he and Jean share is fear. ”Fear transforms your body like an inept sculptor does a perfect block of stone….It’s just that you’re chipped away at from within, and no one sees how many splinters and layers have been taken off you. You become ever thinner and more brittle inside, until even the slightest emotion bowls you over. One hug, and you think you’re going to shatter and be lost.”

This is a dual quest. Jean is also searching for the author of his favorite book. I know from experience that it is not always a good idea to meet the writer of a favorite book. They don’t always live up to expectations, or maybe it is that we, the readers, don’t live up to their expectations. Whenever I meet writers, I really do try not to be a cliche spouting, bloody idiot, but it is difficult.

Nina George will take you down the Rhone river. You will meet more characters who will add their bits of wisdom and, in some cases, comic relief. You will stop off in the town of Cuisery, a place where books are embraced as part of all life. You will be exposed to wonderful food and wine. You will learn how to barter books for what you need. You will see a man, a weak, fragile man. A man, maybe too caught up in the romance of how life should be, struggle to live a whole life once again.

Perdu is certainly not realistic. He deals in cliches because cliches are still loaded with wisdom and insight. He runs away from his problems. He escapes into books and peeks at real life through his fingers. He would rather help others than help himself. I felt protective of him, maybe because I met many people in my time in the book business who were lost in this world, but heroes in the pages of books. They are confident about books, but completely lost with dealing with the complexities of life. Many of them downshift and downshift again until they nearly disappear.

I was afraid this would be a cosy, but if it is, it turned out to be my kind of cosy. I read this book at the right time, almost as if Perdu had pressed it into my hands himself. Life has been heavy and having the opportunity to unmoor from my life and float down the Rhone for a few hours was not only enjoyable, but therapeutic.

This is a gentle book of grand passion.

You will all just have to forgive me for writing a positive review of a book that many of you have chosen to loath. I do not condemn you for your feelings because I believe them to be genuine, but then I wish we could all be kinder to one another and in the process be kinder to books.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,632 followers
January 7, 2016
Merde. I think this is one of those books that is going to bring angry comments from readers who liked it a lot more than I did.

This novel just did not work for me. I thought it was disgustingly sweet, poorly plotted, filled with cliches and bad dialogue, and I could not finish it fast enough.

The sad thing is that I thought I was going to love this book. I had even saved it to read on my vacation — that's how special I thought it would be. I mean, the title has the words Paris and Bookshop in it. Come on! This was supposed to be my favorite novel of the summer!

The story is that Monsieur Perdu owns a floating bookshop on the Seine; he calls it the Literary Apothecary because he can diagnose what is wrong with someone and prescribe the right book for them to read.

You see, I sell books like medicine. There are books that are suitable for a million people, others only for a hundred. There are even medicines — sorry, books — that were written for one person only.

(Bonus points if you suspect that there is one such medicine, er book, for Perdu himself.)

Poor, sweet Monsieur Perdu has been heartbroken for the past 20 years, ever since the love of his life, Manon, suddenly left him, leaving only a letter. Did Perdu ever read the letter? OF COURSE NOT, YOU SILLY GOOSE. Otherwise there wouldn't be a novel!

Early in the book, one of Perdu's neighbors finds the unopened letter and demands he read it. It turns out that Manon left him because she was dying of cancer. Perdu is devastated by this news, and the next day he unmoors his boat and takes an adventure down the Seine. Another neighbor, a young writer named Max, comes along for the ride.

At this point, I wondered if this novel was written just so it could be made into a mawkish movie by Lasse Hallström. (I swear, if Johnny Depp gets cast as Perdu, I will jump into the Seine before I watch it!) The book becomes a montage of French scenery and long conversations over dinner and wine, and there are so many stereotypes of French folks that I would not have been surprised if Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron showed up and started dancing on the boat.

If you want to know the ending, here is the spoiler:

There are some fun bookish references — which is the main reason I wanted to read this novel — but they weren't enough to save it. Also, this book reminded me of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, which also featured a sad, middle-aged bookseller who manages to find love by the end of the story. But Zevin's book didn't annoy me the way George's did. I grudgingly give this 2 stars.

Some Bookish Quotes
"Books keep stupidity at bay. And vain hopes. And vain men. They undress you with love, strength and knowledge. It's love from within."

"Perdu reflected that it was a common misconception that booksellers looked after books. They look after people."

[Perdu is giving piles of recommended books to a customer named Anna]
"Perdu wanted Anna to feel that she was in a nest. He wanted her to sense the boundless possibilities offered by books. They would always be enough. They would never stop loving their readers. They were a fixed point in an otherwise unpredictable world. In life. In love. After death."

"Books were my friends ... I think I learned all my feelings from books. In them I loved and laughed and found out more than in my whole nonreading life."
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Megan.
415 reviews57 followers
August 26, 2015
Absolutely perfect premise and storyline - I was hooked by that blurb. Unfortunately this book was not at all what I was expecting. I was hoping for a Parisian Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore but with a twist - an eccentric old gentleman selling books as medicine to those who are missing a certain something in their lives. As someone who's found solace and company in books ever since I was an awkward little girl, this appealed to me. Unfortunately, that's not what I got, and that book blurb about a literary apothecary only covers maybe 15% of the content of this book. The majority of this book is a sappy romance (if you can even call this a romance). It's more a glorification of infidelity and one man's inability to get over a tryst with a married woman that happened 20 years ago. It's chapter upon chapter of him moaning and groaning about how amazing this Manon woman was, without ever actually showing the reader even a shred of decency or charisma in her entire character.

I wrote so many little angry notes as I read (and then increasingly skimmed) this book. All of the high reviews absolutely boggle my mind because all I can feel is hoodwinked. There was some beautiful descriptive language, especially in reference to the Parisian landscapes and environment, but something was lost in translation. Halting dialogue and awkward phrasing made an already uncomfortable read even worse. Occasionally the author would just throw in the word "cock" abruptly and awkwardly, I suppose to convey a sense of romance and erotica to particular situations. Instead, this only caused reading to become suddenly jilted and tainted with a bunch of "cock"s in a spectacularly worded description of Paris. It's like the equivalent of a panoramic view of a gorgeous Paris landscape with an old man in a trench coat suddenly jumping out and flashing his junk at you, hollering "hoogalie boogalie!" It's quite the opposite of romance.

The only good that came out of me reading this drivel is that I inadvertently learned about book villages throughout Europe and the world (they cruise the book barge through one in Cuisery, France). So now I want to go visit some European book villages.

Other authors, a call to arms (or pens)! Please write the book I was expecting to read from this deceptive blurb: a novel about a mysterious dude who travels around on a boat filled with books he uses to treat and heal patients, a literary apothecary of sorts. Except, you know, make it about the books and their readers and not about some flighty, selfish chick the apothecary banged twenty years ago.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,918 reviews35.3k followers
October 26, 2019
"There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only hundred.
There even remedies --I mean books --that were written for only one person...A book
is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy".

Nina George's lyrical tribute to love, literature, people, living, dying, and all things French...
was a privilege to read.
I hope I'm not the the only 1 person this book was written for -- but just in case:
"THANK YOU, *Nina George*.

My first memory of falling 'crazy-insane' over a book about books...( and the precious gift
books are to all of us - in absolutely all aspects of our life), was when I read Will Schwalbe's book "The End of Your Life Book Club"...
which to this day ... Is still one of my most favorite books - ever - being deeply personal!

There have been others since Will Schwalbe's book ..."The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry", by Gabrielle Zevin,
"Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore", by Robin Sloan, etc.
What they all have in common - is that these books speak to us - speak to a readers soul!
Books do heal. Books do bring us joy...make us laugh...cry ...'feel & think'. We grow, we transform ... We become better human beings.

There are literally dozens upon dozens of quotes in "The Little Paris Bookshop" that are
ruthlessly honest...sparkling marvelous...tender and sad... Inspiring and promising! This book
is worth reading if for no other reason than to discover all those fabulous quotes!!

...This novel is for people who love books & life!
...Who have a special heart for Paris... [The bookshop is a floating Barge on the Seine]...
....(How cool is that?)
....Its also a novel for people who love good storytelling. There is a wonderful-bitter sweet-
emotional story -- from start to finish!

I LOVE "The Little Paris Bookshop"

Thank You Crown Publishing, Netgalley, and Nina George .... This is a wonderful gift. ( I'm grateful to have been given this chance to read it). I would have hated to pass it by.
I plan to buy copies to give to my daughters- and my aunt.
There are people you just want to share specific books with - people close to your heart. This is one of those books!
Profile Image for Gail.
398 reviews
October 4, 2015
I have just finished this book and am astonished at the 5 star reviews; it seems I was reading a different book from the majority of reviewers.

I had such high hopes for this. I had just finished reading a very dark and disturbing thriller and needed a lovely book to make me feel warm and fuzzy; this seemed the perfect antidote, so I settled down with my faithful kindle and began reading.

The premise of the story was just utter magic to me - a bookseller hands out books like medicine to people who need them; it sounded perfect, lovely and magical and so I commenced.

The first few paragraphs were quite enchanting and I was hooked. I wanted to know more about the lovely and insightful Monsieur Jean Perdu and his floating Literary Apothecary and his tragic love affair which took place some 20 years before. He lives in a wonderful apartment block with some great characters, especially the author, Max Jordan, who takes Jean under his wing.

The story then sank (pun intended) without trace for me, sadly, as I felt it became a tale of a group of males who travel the waterways of France, each learning a little of each other along the way. Nothing about books to heal people by this time. I felt disappointed and, dare I say it, a little duped as I hadn't expected the story to go off kilter from the absolute foundation of the story.

I limped along to 75% of the way through and then literally raced to the end to finish it. By the time I reached the finishing post I couldn't have cared less about Jean, Catherine or Max and I literally breathed a sigh of relief that it was finally over. I don't often give up on books, as I didn't with this, but quite honestly I should have deleted the book when Jean took to the rivers.

I'm desperately sorry this book didn't 'do it' for me. I really, really wanted to like it.
Profile Image for Barbara Hale.
444 reviews
August 10, 2015
The reviews are so misleading. What a disappointment! Only one person in our book club liked it. The rest of us just plowed through, hoping it would be over. It was certainly not my cup of tea. The story could have been told in 50 pages, and the rest of the story was just meandering emotion.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,527 reviews787 followers
June 29, 2021
Jean Perdu runs 'the little Paris bookshop' on a beautifully restored barge; he has a talent to soothe, or even medicate buyers with books, but he is unable to fix himself. He is in a decades long spiral of self-recrimination and pain for a love that was seemingly lost, a golden opportunity missed. A writer who found success and fame with his debut book struggles to write a second book, and a new neighbour inspire Perdu to seek out and face his romantic past. The book tells the story of his journey into his past by memory, by food and communal dining, and by location via the canals and rivers of France, starting from the River Seine,

I can see why this book was a bestseller and captivated many, but this tribute to French rural life and its waterways, to opportunities not taken, and to loving and being loved, just didn't resonate with me., despite being well written and chock full of great quotes. It was easy enough to read, it was just hard to read and care about, any of it! It felt like an extremely pale imitation of Joanne Harris' wonderful French set reads. 4 out of 12... sorry!
Profile Image for Mona.
467 reviews281 followers
January 30, 2016

Bittersweet Gallic Romance

This is a very French book. Kind of mournful, but also hopeful. Very, very emotional.

This is ironic, as the author, Nina George, is actually German, although she now lives in France (which doesn't surprise me, as her soul is French).

And yes, it's yet another homage to the vanishing independent bookseller, but it's much more than that. It's a reflection on love and death and other deep subjects. It's also a love letter to France.

Parisian Jean Perdu ("John Lost" in English) is indeed lost.

He owns a book barge on the Seine where he is a "book apothecary", reading people's souls and "prescribing" books for what ails them.

But Perdu is hurting more than anyone around him, although he shares this with no one.

Physician heal thyself....

Twenty years ago, a woman he adored, Manon, left him without a word.

She left a letter, which he's refused to read. There is a room in his Paris apartment which he never enters, a room associated with her.

He lives like a monk. He's locked away the hurt from that love deep inside him and he's never gotten over it.

He doesn't go out with women or really live anymore.

He sells books and goes home to 27 Rue Montagnard at night.

His whole life is about to change, although he doesn't know that yet.

I won't say more to avoid spoilers.

The author describes the whole unusual story in lovely, limpid prose.

The book is very emotional and very moving.

Not many books move me this much.

The audio is expertly read by Steve West, Emma Bering, and Cassandra Campbell.

Profile Image for Christine.
6,550 reviews473 followers
May 20, 2015
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

There is an independent bookstore in Philadelphia called Joseph Fox. It is smallish – one floor, a big first room, a passage, a back room, and a smaller backer room where the children’s books are kept. Every conceivable space is packed with books. Does it have the selection of the big chain store or of Amazon? No. And it doesn’t offer discounts either, though it does give away bookmarks.

But here’s the thing. You can walk into that bookstore and find four books that you never heard of but can’t live without. You can walk into that bookstore with only a general idea of the book you’re looking for, just a summary, and the staff will know which book you want. You can walk in there wanting a book but not knowing what and leave with the perfect thing.

It is the small bookstores, be they independent bookstores or used bookstores, that offer such things as well as interesting conversations about all things. There is much good to be said for the chain stores and Amazon, in particular when you live in the middle of no-where, but the worse is those people who never discover that amazing independent bookstore – either because the reader refuses to leave the computer store or because the independent store closes due to lack of sales.

A shame, on so many levels, but perhaps most of all because Amazon’s recommendation generator is nowhere as good as a real human bookseller who knows and loves books. Many readers have something of this in them – a tendency to get other people to read and to match people with books. A true bookseller does this, seemingly, without much thought but does it perfectly.

At the start of this novel, that is the point. Perdu (an important last name for those who know French) sells books from his barge, which is currently moored in Paris. He has the art of matching person to book. He is a book healer – using books to heal those who need it – but the saying “physical heal you” is apt. Perdu is lost in more ways than one, though to him, it is because of his lost love. Eventually, he begins a journey that is as healing for him as the books he carries with him and travels though.

In part, the novel is about the discovery of self, of learning to live in the world; in another way, the novel is about the power of books and how they affect readers. To this end, at the close of the novel there is not only recipes for the food mentioned, but also a list of books and their possible cures (Terry Pratchett is mentioned!). In some ways, the dual purpose lets the book down because the novel is strongest when dealing with books. It is somewhat like A Novel Bookstore, though the tone is at once more interior and lighter. It is the journey though the canals, at once an Odyssey at other times a Ulysses that sometimes, at certain points, feels as if it doesn’t quite belong. Though how the novel would work without it, I cannot see. If the canal section at time feels a little out of place, at times it feels totally in sync and powerful. One of the companions that Perdu gains are a cook and books are linked thereafter with food and good wine (as they always should be).

George’s writing is marvelous; there is a type of magic to it. She is able to paint a picture extremely well, but the best parts are when she writes about books – “Books keep stupidity at bay. And vain hopes. And vain men” (Location 241) or “Yet the novel still struck him as a kind of gazpacho that kept sloshing over the edge of the soup bowl” (Location 309). These are words that any true reader will understand.

Another important aspect of the novel is that unlike some books about books, there is no sense of superiority, of mentioning only “good literature”. While George does mention the greats, she also refers to Game of Thrones, to Phillip Pullman, and to Hobbits. She embraces books and reading, using a definition of literature, if she is using one at all, to include books.

Profile Image for Debbie W..
708 reviews453 followers
September 14, 2021
Jean Perdu, a Frenchman who owns the Literary Apothecary, a bookshop barge floating on the Seine River in Paris, prescribes books to his patrons like medicine to make the soul happy. Unfortunately, Jean doesn't seem to be able to help his own soul.

What I did like about this story:
1. it's a nice little tale about friendship, adventure and love; and,
2. occasionally, my heart would ache, and it brought tears to my eyes.

What made me think, "Meh!":
1. for a setting of a floating bookshop, I was disappointed by how little books were actually featured! And then when Jean gave away the Literary Apothecary, I thought, "What the ...?;
2. I never really felt a connection to the characters, especially the adulterous ones (well, maybe Jean's father, Joaquin - he made me laugh!);
3. I often lost focus on this audiobook with the constant repetitive meandering, so much so that I quit bothering to hit "Replay"; and,
4. I never had an audiobook on loan for as long as I did with this one - mainly because I wasn't so excited to return to it.

The premise of this story initially drew me in. My positives sound good, but they weren't strong enough to outweigh the negatives. It's not memorable enough for me to rate it higher than 3 stars.
Profile Image for Calista.
3,803 reviews31.2k followers
March 25, 2020
One of my top 5 favorite books. I love it.

This is one of the better books I've read this year! It is shining with delight and Nina is so good at illuminating the human condition. I hope everyone will read about the book selling apothecary Jean and his trip down the rivers of France with cats and authors and all kinds of characters.
Profile Image for Dana.
195 reviews
December 3, 2015
I'm giving up in this one. Life's too short to read books that bore me....
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,478 reviews938 followers
June 7, 2016

One word review : Overkill!

There's a excellent little romantic gem of a story hidden somewhere in the text of Nina George's bestseller. After all, the sales tell their own story and are proof that most of the readers were able to see past the wooden dialogue and the saccharine sentimentality into the true heart of the story, about coping with loss of innocence, aging, death, starting your life over. There's also a lot to be said about the power of books to inspire and renew a reader's interest in living, his belief in love in particular. The author may have 'borrowed' the idea of the books as medicine for the soul ( I thinks she gives credit to German author Erich Kastner for the theme of the floating library peniche), but she deserves recognition for turning this basic principle into a wild, fanciful journey from the quais of the Seine through the navigable canals of Central France, all the way down to sunny Provence and the beaches of the Cote d'Azur.

Our guide, or pharmacist, is Jean Perdu, a 50 year old man who has built an impregnable armour around his heart after losing the love of his life some twenty years ago. He is now dispensing literary advice / recommendations from his barge Lola "a boat with a low-slung belly, a galley, two sleeping berths, a bathroom and eight thousand books. It's a world apart from our world."
To cut a long story short, Jean Perdu is shaken out of his apathy by a letter from his former lover Manon, a letter that has remained locked for two decades yet still has the power to send him on a quest of his lost youth. Jean takes his barge, his books, his two stray cats and an unexpected stowaway in the person of Max, a succesful young author struggling with writer's block, on a trip to the south of France. Additional themes deal with the syymbolism of the tango, with writers hiding under a pseudonym, with fellow travellers searching for lost loves (an Italian handyman), and food as an expression of love. Flashbacks to the past come in the form of journal entries from Manon, the one who got away two decades ago.

I am usually a sucker for this kind of story (see the end of my review for some examples), plus I love Paris and the Provence where I spent many a memorable vacation. So what went wrong with the story of Jean Perdu? It might be the case of an unfortunate translation, but right from the start I was bothered by Jean's speech patterns, by his sermonizing on the subject of books and love and by the frequency of quotable maxims that seem handpicked from the relationship column of a fashion magazine and shoehorned into the text whether they fit or not the action. The secondary characters are no better when it comes to bashing the reader with a metaphoric sledgehammer on the importance of getting in touch with your emotions. I'm not hard to please when it comes to romance, but I also believe a little moderation goes a long way to make a character come alive. Jean and his companions never let me forget for a moment that I am here to listen to their sermons. A quick internet research proved me true, as Nina George has made quite a name for herself by writing articles and advice columns for Cosmopolitan and its like, and by writing several popular books on modern sexuality under a pseudonym.

An early example of what I am talking about is the whole concept of transperception, a made-up term for explaining Jean Perdu's success rate with his book recommendations. Apparently, he is able to read the personality and the inner life of a customer just by looking at him or her and asking a few flash quizzes about his or her likes and dislikes. I know most romance novels are the modern equivalent of classic fairytales, but not everything is improved by a touch of the supernatural.

Two more examples illustrate what I mean about either a poor translation or a poor understanding of metaphor. In describing the people of Provence, Manon goes like this:

They are woody and malleable, stony and strong, they speak from deep within their strata and boil over as fast as a pan of water on the stove.

I wanted to shout : Please pick one or the other, but not both at the same time - either strong or flexible, either deep or shallow. And did you actually counted the minutes it takes to bring water to a boil? It's not that quick ...

.. and, in describing her loving two men at the same time, Manon goes like this:

So three-sided spheres do exist.

Uhmmm .. no they don't! At the most you can argue for two sides : the inner and the outer surface, but a sphere by definition has no corners, triangles or any other angles. The Platonic myth was not about threesomes.

I sould stop with my grumbling : after all, it's all subjective, and I would hate to keep any potential reader away from a book that might change his or her life. My own experience was more like facepalms, groaning and looking every five minutes or so to see how many pages I have left in the chapter or how many pages left until I can reach the end. I am a compulsive finisher of all the books I start, and an incurrable optimist, so I hated the idea of giving up on Jean Perdu too soon. It's also true that I liked many of the basic principles presented here (how we deal with loss, how important are music, food, friendship, dancing, reading to the process of healing). I honestly believe this could have been a great book in the hands of a more subtle writer, one less focused on scoring high on 'bon-mots' and more interested in credible characters. As a peace offering, I have two 'bon-mots' that I really liked:

Nobody would ever wise up if they hadn't at some stage been young and stupid.

... "you've got to read this, it'll do you good" - a reminder that the greatest thrill at discovering a gret story is to share it with your friends and lovers. There's a couple of nice Easter Eggs at the end of the book, also for sharing with friends: some Provencal recipes for a good meal, and 'Jean Perdu's emergency literary pharmacy list' of novels that are good for your soul. I think it would be fun for each of us to try to put together such a list of the stories that shaped our life in a significant way. Some of the titles may even overlap with those of Jean Perdu. On the plus side of the balance I could also include a few travel tips like Sanary-sur-Mer, Vaucluse or Cuisery and music playlists that include "the Benny Goodman Sextet's cheerful "Bei Mir Bist du Schoen", dreamy "Cape Cod" and then Louis Armstrong's melancholy "We Have All the Time in the World"

I have one snarky conclusion (Jean Perdu will probably win my end of the year award of "Most Tears Per Paragraph shed by a single character") and a short list of literary medicine that I recommend as companions in spirit to "The Little Paris Bookshop" . They all deal in some way with the subject of the grumpy old man who secretly loves life and books and carries a torch for a long lost love:

- Nicole Krauss - The History of Love
- Gabrielle Zevin - The Storied Life of A J Fikry
- Fredrik Backman - A Man Called Ove
- Muriel Barbery - The Elegance of the Hedgehog (she is on Jean Perdu's list also)
- G B Edwards - The Book of Ebenezer le Page (warning - doorstopper and only partly dealing with romance or reading)
Profile Image for Edgarr Alien Pooh.
272 reviews176 followers
June 9, 2021
Jean Perdu customizes an old barge into a bookstore and moors it on the Seine river in Paris. He lives in an apartment close to the barge and names his store the Literary Apothecary for he believes he can sell a book to anyone to heal their ills, or just generally fill the void in their lives. He is considerably well known and has a host of regular customers. He leads a simple life because the only ill that he cannot heal through his books is his own, one born twenty-odd years ago.

It is the arrival of a visitor, one who has tenuous links to Perdu, that begins the upheaval of his life. And so, after many years moored to the same spot, Perdu casts away from Paris and sets sail for the Meditteranean Sea and the south of France, primarily in search of a book but in actuality, in search of redemption and a healing process.

Nina George creatively and magically weaves together three of my loves. France, books, and a novel that is so beautiful in its description of scenery. Cruise, drive and walk along with Perdu on his quest, sample the wines and eat the delights with him, taste and smell France from Paris to Marseilles and beyond.

This book is littered with author names and book titles, both recent and from yesteryear. A book also full of romance but not the cheesy kind, but that that is attached to remorse, regret, hope, and possibility. A cast of well-drawn characters that all play relevant and important parts to the plot, some full of joy and others sadness and loss.
Profile Image for Marianne.
3,324 reviews128 followers
April 11, 2015
“To carry them within us – that is our task. We carry them all inside us, all our dead and shattered loves. Only they make us whole. If we begin to forget or cast aside those who we’ve lost, then … then we are no longer present either”

The Little Paris Bookshop is the seventh book by German journalist, teacher and author, Nina George (written under that name). Jean Perdu is fifty years old. He lives in an apartment building with an interesting (and often eccentric) collection of other tenants, a place where “The snatches of life that could be overheard in the house at number 27 Rue Montagnard were like a sea lapping the shores of Perdu’s silent isle”.

Perdu is the owner of The Literary Apothecary, a book barge on the River Seine in Paris. His customers (or perhaps they are patients) benefit from his unique skills, his extraordinary insight and intuition, in dispensing just the right literary remedy for “countless, undefined afflictions of the soul”. He advises one: “With all due respect, what you read is more important in the long term than the man you marry, ma chère Madame”

But the arrival of a new tenant, the heart-broken Catherine, sets in motion a train of events that see Perdu opening a room in his apartment (and in his heart) that has been sealed for twenty-one years. Soon after, the contents of a hitherto unopened letter are the impetus for great changes: Perdu abruptly unmoors his barge and sets off, completely unprepared, down the Seine towards Provence, to face what he has been denying for such a long time. He is accompanied by a publicity-shy novelist, two cats (Kafka and Lindgren) and later a lovelorn Italian and an impulsive book guild chairwoman.

Perdu’s narrative is supplemented by entries in Manon’s Travel Diary and letters or cards that Jean writes to Catherine back in Paris. As the story unfolds, Perdu shares proposed entries for his “Great Encyclopedia of Small Emotions” as well as some profound observations on human nature: “The trouble is that so many people, most of them women, think they have to have a perfect body to be loved. But all it has to do is be capable of loving – and being loved”; and quite a lot of words of wisdom: “Memories are like wolves. You can’t lock them away and hope they leave you alone” being one example.

In this best-selling novel, George touches on love and heartbreak, grief and denial, and the importance of friends. She wraps her heart-warming and uplifting tale in some truly gorgeous descriptive prose: “The Milky Way was a streak of light, a vapour trail of planets overhead. The silence was almost overpowering, and the blue depths of the night sky seemed to suck them in” and “It is different every day, and the gulls screech like little kids on stormy days and like heralds of glory on sunny ones. ‘Fine! Fine! Fine! they call” and “Sometimes you’re swimming in unwept tears and you’ll go under if you store them up inside” are just a few.

Her characters are appealing, her plot takes a few twists and there are even small mysteries and tiny moments of suspense. Readers who enjoyed The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry are very likely to find this novel equally delightful. Flawlessly translated by Simon Pare, it also features a section of delicious-sounding Provencal recipes and Jean Perdu’s Emergency Literary Pharmacy, five pages that are both funny and perceptive. Funny, moving and uplifting.
With thanks to The Reading Room and Hachette for this copy to read and review.

Just a few more quotes I couldn’t resist:
“He mainly thought of her as ____. As a pause amid the hum of his thoughts, as a blank in the picture of the past, as a dark spot amid his feelings. He was capable of conjuring all kinds of gaps”
“Fear transforms your body like an inept sculptor does a perfect block of stone. It’s just that you’re chipped away at from within, and no one sees how many splinters and layers have been taken off you. You become ever thinner and more brittle inside, until even the slightest emotion bowls you over. One hug, and you think you’re going to shatter and be lost”
“It’s strange that magnificent, good-hearted people like him don’t receive more love. Do their looks disguise their character so well that nobody notices how open their soul, their being and their principles are to love and kindness?”
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,403 reviews9,536 followers
August 29, 2015

I am completely in love with this book. I had no idea what a gem I had in my hands. I picked this out of the books I was offered because I thought it sounded interesting, never would I have thought I would sink into the world of this book and not want to leave.

When I first met the main character Monsieur Perdu (Jean Perdu) he reminded me of Hercule Poirot in his mannerisms, but that soon went by the wayside. Jean Perdu is a very unique man. A man with his own broken heart who can read people and give them books to help their situations. With only a few things about yourself, or listening to you talk in a conversation with someone, he can pick out a book or books that will help you feel better about your problems.

He lives in an apartment building with some unusual characters but they are all fun and I love how they are with each other. The famous focus of the book though is Monsieur Perdu's barge on the water full of wonderful books. She is Paris's famous floating Literary Apothecary bookstore. Her name was Lulu when he first bought her and he still refers to that name from time to time. The Literary Apothecary bookstore is a place you can go and read books in corners, pet the two stray cats he feeds, and most importantly, ask what kind of book you need. It is absolutely brilliant! Just absolutely brilliant this book!

At home Perdu is helping out a neighbor, Catherine, with books and a table because her husband ran out and took everything while she was gone one day. Catherine finds a letter in the table with Perdu's name on it, he knows what it is and reluctantly takes it back. You see years ago, Perdu was so in love with a woman named Mamon. She was to be married to a man she truly loved, but wanted to stay with Perdu too. Her fiance Luc, didn't care that she was with Perdu on the side, he was okay with letting her be free. Yeahhhh..... Anyway, she wrote this letter that he DID NOT READ for 21 years!!! I mean how can you not read a letter after all that time and when you do read the letter, you walk around in a daze realizing how stupid you were. And no I am not going to say what was in the letter. Get the book and find out :)

Perdu is so distraught he goes to his bookstore, pulls all of the anchors out of the bank etc and off he goes. The cats came with him and an author that had moved into his apartment building jumped on board and came with him. His name is Max and he is a great character. He's just down on his luck because he can't seem to write another book.

So, off they go on this journey together. They make little pit stops in different towns and exchange books for food and gas. Yeah, Perdu left in such a hurry he forgot to go to the bank, but it all works out.

Along the way Perdu picks up an old friend named Cuneo who decides to go on he journey with them. These three men have such a wonderful time. The sights they see, the people they meet, the people they all help together in some way or the other. Every little thing is a piece of art to me. You want to devour each page to see what they are going to do next!

Along the way they acquire another person that they actually dragged out of the water in a storm. Her name is Sally and she just wanted to see what it was like in the water during a storm. Not one of the best ideas you could have, but it is what it is. They stay a little bit in the village where Sally is from and there is a cool convention going on with people running around like characters in the Hobbit, The Game of Thrones etc. They don't stay there long though and Sally goes with them when they leave.

At some point Perdu decides he needs to finish the journey by land. He gives his boat to two people he knows he can trust to take care of her. One person goes with him from the boat to his destination. The cats, Lindgren and Kafka stay on the boat but it seemed they were sad and knew that he was leaving :(

The rest of the book is heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time. There is a thing as a sad and happy ending and this book sure has both. I am so very happy I picked this book and I would recommend this book to anyone that loves books, loves magical places, loves camaraderie with wonderful friends and last but not least, true love.

Also at the back of the book the author has added some recipes from the book and some book lists and what they will help that ails you!!! What a wonderful touch to add to a remarkable book!

**I would like to thank BLOGGING FOR BOOKS for a free print copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.**

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Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,007 reviews354 followers
February 24, 2021
There's a Thin Line Between Life and Books

Books, Books, Books...

Friends, Masters and Healers

Shields, Shelters built on laughs, tears and smiles...
Entrances and Exits...

Always there for Us:

Celebrating Joys
Alchemizing Sorrows!

Giving Everything
Asking for Nothing!...

We Travel
We Hide
We Learn...

We find what we are!
We find what we aren't!

In books we find ourselves
In books we lose ourselves...

We Fly!
We Grow!
We Live!...

We know ourselves in the world!
We perceive the world in ourselves!...

Is it all about books?

It isn't!...

But books are my brothers, sisters and heroes
and they were the ones to match the echoes of my mind!...

It's a huge fat 4, for this book about books
plus a lil something!... 😊👍

Books plus a Lil Something:
My best definition of life, so far!!! 😉

There's a thin line between life and books!
So thin, they tend to overlap it all the time!... 😜
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,007 reviews354 followers
March 10, 2018
Livros - O Nosso Agora E Sempre

"As memórias são como os lobos. Não as podes trancar num quarto e esperar que te ignorem."

Mas...há os livros:

Os livros protegem-nos ...
Da tristeza.
Da ignorância.
Da falsidade.
Plantam risos e lágrimas emprestadas.
Elevam a auto-estima.
Revestem-nos de amor, força e sabedoria.
Descobrimos quem somos.
Quem queremos ser.
Amamos, odiamos, sofremos, rejubilamos.
São vida por dentro.
São abrigos, magos, mestres e companheiros!...

A escolha é nossa:
Livros ou...

Uma leitura obrigatória para quem ama livros!
Leiam as primeiras páginas e fiquem grudados!
Eu cá fiquei!...
Não só grudei, como A-D-O-R-E-I !
Se antes os amava, agora adoro-os!
Porque os Livros... Os Livros são o nosso Agora e Sempre...

É um 4 acoplado a uma sequência infinita de "+".
Ora isso dá... quase, quase, quase 5!!!
Profile Image for Tina Haigler.
288 reviews97 followers
April 30, 2020
"How on earth could I have let them talk me into it?"

Holy bejeezus! If this book is any indication, French people really are romantic. At least the woman who wrote this novel is. I would love to think French men think as romantically as this author portrays them, but I highly doubt it. I suspect it is merely wishful thinking on her part, but oh how wonderful it would be to be entirely wrong.

This was a sad, yet beautiful story about love, loss, friendship, and the stages of grief. It's the tale of a man, Jean Perdu, who instead of dealing with the pain of loss, decides to avoid it and ignore it altogether for twenty years, until new circumstances cause the old emotions to surface once again.

Reading about the countryside was so relaxing for me. Wonderfully told, it made me feel like I was visiting France, visiting vineyards, and sailing down the Seine myself. On top of that, the romance in the way the main character thought and how he viewed life, was enough to make a hopeless romantic like me quite weak in the knees. Plus he absolutely loves books. I mean what more can a girl ask for? My only complaint is that due to it being translated from French, every now and then you'll come across sentences that don't fully translate the true feeling of the original text.

Ultimately, this was very moving and sweet. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves romance, France, journeys, adventures, sailing, vineyards, stories about self-awakening, or books about books. As Perdu would say, this book is best read in a cozy setting, with a nice glass of wine in hand.

"(Also known as living.)"

*I also listened to the audio book. It was done well. The voices chosen for the characters fit their personalities and the narrator did the different accents quite well.
Profile Image for Margitte.
1,146 reviews501 followers
September 25, 2015
The book started out with possibilities:

There was monsieur Perdu: - ' the king of this world, a literary pharmacist, who writes prescriptions for the lovesick;
"…My name is Jean. Jean Albert Victor Perdu. Albert after my paternal grandfather, Victor after my maternal grandfather. My mother is a professor, and her father, Victor Bernier, was a toxicologist, a socialist and mayor. I’m fifty years old, Catherine, and I haven’t known many women, let alone slept with them. I loved one. She left me.’
Perdu's gift was his transperceptional abilities.

There was his literary apothecary: - la pharmacie littéraire, the moored book barge, called Lulu in the Seine, filled with 8 000 books;

There was his philosophies: - " You see, Jordan, ' said Perdu, taking a different tack, 'a book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnoses as well as offering therapy."


The wrong novel can be like giving a woman a dentist when she needs a gynecologist.


"…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."


"…Let’s stick to Monsieur Jordan for the moment. Monsieur Jordan, if you don’t mind. You see, I sell books like medicine. There are books that are suitable for a million people, others only for a hundred. There are even medicines – sorry, books – that were written for one person only."

He lived a quiet life for twenty-one years in his apartment building.
" I read books – twenty at a time. Everywhere: on the toilet, in the kitchen, in cafés, in the metro. I do jigsaw puzzles that take up the whole floor, destroy them when I’ve finished and then start all over again. I feed stray cats. I arrange my groceries in alphabetical order. I sometimes take sleeping tablets. I take a dose of Rilke to wake up. I don’t read any books in which women like — crop up. I gradually turn to stone. I carry on. The same every day. That’s the only way I can survive. But other than that, no, I do nothing."
He does iron his shirts vigorously, and role up his sleeves carefully, inwards, one fold at a time.

Fifty-year-old Perdu shared his life with equally eccentric characters in the apartment block, such as the two generals of number 24, Rue Montagnard - Madame Bernard, the owner and Madame Rosalette, the concierge. There was Mademoiselle Clara Víolette, the famous pianist and hermit, in her electric wheelchair, playing her Pleyel grand piano only once a year on her balcony; Che and young blind Kofi, who could 'see' the world through the fragrant trails and traces that people's feelings and thoughts had left behind. Che could sense whether a room had been loved or lived or argued in.

They lived the French way. Sophisticated dry wit and wisdom roamed the halls and balconies. Perdu knew that the giggles and snorts behind closed doors at Madame Bomme's apartment door on Sundays was due to the dirty books he slipped in for the widow's club behind their stuffy relative's backs. There was also the young Maximillian Jordan, the author, who simply could, and would, not leave Perdu alone.

Monsieur Perdu inspired all and sunder to read and cure themselves through novelistic potions he concocted for them. But the one person he could not cure was himself. From a broken heart. A love affair that ended twenty odd years earlier. Her name was Manon Basset (née Morello). He simply could not face himself. Nor could he face the letter which was left in a table drawer in his kitchen. Actually, it wasn't left there, he put it there, refusing to read it.

A new neighbor appear who forced him to read the letter. Catharine, who's husband deserted her and left her with nothing. Catherine, soon-to-be-ex-wife-of-Le-Dirty-Swine. Needless to say, the two generals were appalled. Catherine's ex-husband treated her shamelessly, like a moth treated a wedding veil. But Catherine was so deliciously French in her calmness and acceptance of the situation. And she was not like other wives, fridges in Chanel.

The neighbors all pitched in and provided her with furniture. Perdu gifted the table with the letter in. The two generals thought Perdu was like cashmere compared to the normal yarn from which other men were spun.

Things started happening. Perdu grabs the wheel of Lulu and take off for the south of France. Opening up the room, after 21 years of being closed, and finally reading the letter, spun his life into a new orbit. He needed closure.

Max Jordan, the internationally best-selling, word-deprived, writer, avoiding his fan club and the press, jumps in and the two men happily cruise along the Seine. Their mutual knowledge of seamanship left them with a few middle-finger messages by fellow boaters, and delightful comments flying around between historical enemies.

"…Landlubbers! Guttersnipes! Slime eels!’ the British shouted over from their dark-green houseboat."

"…Monarchists! Atheists! Crust cutters!’ Max called back in a voice that was shrill from crying and blew his nose a few times to give his words extra force."

And that's where I leave the plot behind, Let's share some endless chattering about the experience. I loved the first part of the book to almost the half-way mark, which took ages to reach! Someone recommended that the book should be read in increments of 50 pages, nothing more, at a time. Perhaps it is true.

I enjoyed:
-- the love affair that went wrong - besides, what will a Frenchman be without a tragic love affair, huh?;
-- the wisdom in the apothecary - I was waiting for my own salvation, following every word of wisdom coming from the king of the world;
-- I adored the colorful background of Paris - the huge humming machine, pulsing along the arteries of urban contentment and happiness.

But then the unthinkable happened. I simply got bored beyond words. Romanticizing the adulterous affair, did not work for me. The adulterous woman was a little bit narcissistic, although she redeemed herself in the very end.

I had trouble finishing. It is like meeting a hostess for the first time who loves to force-feed her guests with her overcooked, badly-flavored food. You try to escape without being rude. In this case it is mountains of clichés. That's the only aspect of the story that could inspire me to burst out in tears. Nothing else.

It is an international bestseller, take note.

There's love and laughter, as well as a collection of spicy love scenes and frivolous, girlie moments. Yes, even Perdu pulls in his stomach and kisses himself goodnight in the mirror(my expression for egotistical delights). After being on the boat for so long, regaining his muscle definition, growing his hair longer, and becoming the French stud that he used to be and should be, dammit, he is ready for action again. There's women to be loved, after all. And life gave him a second chance. And yes, don't forget a lot more crying. Men cry in this book. They bring the heavens down in buckets.

Well it turned out to be a romantic love boat, with saccharine and corny elements in the narrative. I don't want to add 'horny', to the list of attributes. Let's call it descriptive erotic love scenes. Sadly they lifted me out of my passionate love affair with the book. The story ended up being an effort to be the sentimental tearjerker of the centuries, but I simply felt nothing. I felt manipulated by the hostess with her freaking food. I couldn't stomach it.

If you can survive the over-abundance of clichés, you can try this book. The boat just did not make it to my harbor in the end. I jumped off and swam for the shore, although I did read the last few chapters as well as the epilogue. Probably missed out on five chapters. The recipes are divine. The humor a delight. And the ending? why, it's happily ever after, of course.

The book is a celebration of love in all its possible and impossible forms. It is about books and changing lives; it's about family, forgiveness and friendship. It celebrates the romantic grandeur of France. There's tradition and rituals and diaries and lots of words.

The prose is really outstanding. The author made an effort to add melodies to the words and magic to the love story.
"The herbs from the Goldenbergs’ little garden. Rosemary and thyme mixed with the massage oils used by Che, the blind chiropodist and ‘foot whisperer’. Added to that, the smell of pancakes intermingled with Kofi’s spicy and meaty African barbecued dishes. Over it all drifted the perfume of Paris in June, the fragrance of lime blossom and expectation.'

'... As night took flight, abandoning Paris to a Saturday morning…'
I closed the book and decided on three stars. One of them is for the beautiful prose. It could have been a spectacular book if the girlie, drawn-out, sentimental, emotional-manipulating hype, were avoided. It could have shared the shelf of great books such as "A Man Called Ove", for instance. But let's be fair. It was a romance. I just did not realize it before I started out. It is after everything is said and done, a prescription for the lovesick and there's nothing wrong with that. It just caters for a different audience. Millions of them.

Don't take my word for it. You need to decide for yourself.
Profile Image for Jacob Overmark.
202 reviews9 followers
July 31, 2017
What did I think?

At first I thought "What´s not to like?". A book about books and Southern France, perfect for a rainy summer day and I immediately fell for Jean Perdu.

The name game wasn´t lost on me, a man in a mature age, lost in himself, in his past and his happy and unhappy memories. He could have been "The Steppenwolf" or even the narrator in "À la recherche du temps perdu", but he´s neither.

He is a man with a mission, he is a literary apothecary, caring for all the lost souls but his own with the remedy he knows best, books.

While a few love stories slowly unfold, at a pace set to make you think and contemplate, you are invited to take a walk down your own memory lane.

Which books were part of your life in which circumstances. Which books made you cry because they touched some deep memory, which books were like your reflection in dark waters or which books inspired you to live, love and do great things.

Some do yoga, some read, some buy a sports car, we all handle our lives in different ways. "The Little Paris Bookshop" does not pretend to give you a recipe for a long happy life.
It merely points out that whatever you are, you are a product of your life and your experiences, some sad and some happy and people able to include their past in the present stands good chances of many happy moments.

To me a 5-star reading experience is one that make me reflect on life, my own and in general. Even "The Little Paris Bookshop" can hardly be considered Nobel material, it did the trick for me.

Happy reading.
Profile Image for Cathrine ☯️ .
603 reviews331 followers
December 3, 2015
I just cannot get into this. Is it the structure, the translation, me, what? Based on other poor ratings and general boredom I am giving up. Other books are waiting.
Profile Image for JenniferD.
1,006 reviews360 followers
December 30, 2015
2.5- stars, really.

okay, first up: hello, my name is jennifer and i got a bit suckered into reading a romance novel. :/

(publisher lists this as 'fiction, romance, contemporary' - NetGalley listing reads 'literature/fiction' and did not have the 'contemporary romance' identifier.) i am not against romance, per se, but in reading, i am against the overly-sentimental and schmaltzy, and overuse of clichés. so this book fell apart for me on all three counts. which is really, really unfortunate. this is a book about books, and their power to help and to heal. it's set in paris, and the bookshop is a floating barge on the seine. i mean... come on! but the books and bookshop are a feint for the love story (actually, a few love stories - the primary of which is pretty thin and, for me, difficult to believe).

i probably should have clued in right away that this wasn't going to be the best read for me - the main character's name is 'perdu', french for lost or missing. and perdu - jean perdu - has shut himself off to experiencing the world after the heartbreak of being dumped 21 years ago. (le sigh.) jean perdu is truly, emotionally and physically lost. it's a bit too literal for my tastes. jean was left a letter by his departing girlfriend (again, a literal 'dear john' letter), but he could not bring himself to read it for more than 20 years.

the book, at moments, reminded me of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry or The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - both charming, nice novels with interesting premises and some endearing secondary characters. the little paris bookshop, though, is not as strong as these and mostly it's because of the schmaltz and clichés. i felt like i was reading regurgitations and not originality.

there was also this very strange situation where jean perdu's father goes on a bit with a long comparison of horses and women. this came right at a moment during the read where i was feeling awkward about how men and women were being presented/treated in the story, and i found myself off on a tangent wondering what the author really felt about men and women. a passing mention of someone being a misogynist happens later in the story. i'm not explaining this very well, sorry. but i felt strange that the author was female, yet offering stereotypical thoughts that might usually come from a (less-than-evolved) male perspective.

so as to not sound so old and cranky and down on love (i am none of these things, i swear!): i did really enjoy the meta-ness of the book. as i was reading, i was marking the authors and books mentioned in the story. helpfully, the author and publisher have included a list at the back of the book. as well, there was some good eating happening through the novel. a few recipes are also listed at the back of the book. so both of these aspects were great. the book, originally published in Germany as Das Lavendelzimmer (The Lavender Room) has been a huge hit for george - more than 500,000 copies have bene sold, and its won two awards - DeLiA and the Glauser-Prize.

so, clearly this book has worked for, and is beloved by, many readers. i just really wish the whole of the thing was stronger and more engaging for me.

(ARC (e-pub edition) provided by the publisher, via NetGalley)

edited to add:

1. i made a listopia for the books mentioned in the little paris bookshop. it makes for a pretty great reading project. https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/8...

2. authors mentioned, though no specific books noted:

* Alice Munro
* Thomas Pynchon
* Marcel Pagnol
* Michel Houellebecq
* John Irving
* Philip Roth
* Colette
* George Sand
* Fyodor Dostoyevsky
* Hildegard von Bingen
* Hermann Hesse
* Albert Camus
* Charles Baudelaire
* Honoré de Balzac
* Montesquieu
* Donna Leon
* Ernest Hemingway
* Irène Némirovsky
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,647 reviews26 followers
May 3, 2016
I was going to rate this 3 stars but I realized that I skimmed the last third of the book because I just wanted to be done with it. The tone of the book kept changing. Was it a romance with the idea of selling books as much a part of the romance as those between characters? But then our bookseller Perdu takes off on his bookselling boat on a river road trip. He picks up this wierd young writer who wears earmuffs all the time and it becomes a farce. They have no money and no food and have to pay fees to tie up the boat at various destinations. But then suddenly they get out and visit an ATM for funds. WTW? The love scenes throughout the book were not very compelling and occasionally the use of terms that fit more in erotica than this book had me wondering was it a problem with the translation or something else. Unexplicably Perdu abandons the boat for a car trip (the map in the front of the book gives this away so this is not a spoiler). Perdu is on a search for a lost love and avoiding any new ones. Anyway I've already invested too much time in reviewing this unsatisfying book, sigh.
Profile Image for Anne Goldschrift.
326 reviews398 followers
February 7, 2017
3 Jahre stand dieses Buch ungelesen in meinem Regal und jetzt frage ich mich: Wie konnte das passieren? Es gibt nur ganz wenige Bücher in meinem Leben, die mich so berührt haben, die so voller Wahrheit, voll schöner Worte sind und die mich so zum Weinen gebracht haben.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
219 reviews35.9k followers
November 14, 2017
You fall in love with this book first because it's about the power of books. Who can resist the idea of a book barge on the Seine in Paris where the bookseller, Jean Perdu, uses his intuition to select just the right book to deal with whichever emotion - small or large - is afflicting you? Monsieur Perdu explains it as "I wanted to treat feelings that are not recognized as afflictions and are never diagnosed by doctors. All those little feelings and emotions no therapist is interested in, because they are apparently too minor and intangible. The feeling that washes over you when another summer nears its end Or when you recognize that you haven't got your whole life left to find out where you belong. Or the slight sense of grief when a friendship doesn't develop as you thought, and you have to continue your search for a lifelong companion. Or those birthday morning blues. Nostalgia for the air of your childhood. Things like that."

After a while, you'll move to a deeper appreciation as you realize the book is about grief. And life. And facing death. On her website (http://www.nina-george.com), Nina George says:

It took me 20 years to become famous overnight—from 1993 to 2013, when The Little Paris Bookshop landed on the bestseller list. [Note: German bestseller list].This long journey was necessary. I had to live, write a great deal, love and weep. I had to lose everything before I could write what I was capable of, what really interested me. Everyone must follow their own journey. Usually a painful one.

The Little Paris Bookshop was the result of a breakthrough. I’d always known I wanted to write about death, about the fear of death and how this fear holds us back from living life to the fullest.

In the book, we go on the journey of Perdu as he moves from being lost in grief to slowly reclaiming himself and his life. The further south we go, the warmer the weather and the more Perdu comes alive. Bookseller. Lost love. The wisdom of books. It likely sounds rather similar to The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, which in some ways it is. I preferred The Little Paris Bookshop, likely because it was quirkier and more whimsical. The story would so easily translate into a subtitled French movie along the lines of "Amelie."

As someone with a degree in French, I loved just how truly French it all felt. At first, it was surprising how well this was done as Nina George is German, but it turns out she lives in both Germany and France. Her intimacy with France pays off. Thanks to the gorgeous descriptions, I wouldn't be surprised to see an uptick in Americans heading to Provence after reading The Little Paris Bookshop!

George's writing is wonderful (and kudos should go to the translator for the fantastic work on this English edition). I ended up sharing several quotes to Goodreads - way more than I have for any book in a long while. George beautifully captures so many emotions and ideas.

But back to the books and which ones best fit different emotions. At the end of the book, there's "Jean Perdu's Emergency Literary Pharmacy" and among the "fast-acting medicines for minds and hearts affected by minor or moderate emotional turmoil," you'll find:

Adams, Douglas. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Five Parts
Effective in large doses for treating pathological optimism or a sense of humor failure. Ideal for saunagoers with exhibitionist tendencies.
Side effects: An aversion to owning things, and a potentially chronic tendency to wear a robe all day.

Thanks to Crown and Netgalley for providing an advance copy.
Profile Image for Heather.
295 reviews106 followers
May 20, 2018
Oh my gosh! This book is so beautifully and poetically written! I just think everyone should read it! I want to meet someone like Jean Perdu.
Profile Image for Historical Fiction.
919 reviews577 followers
April 2, 2016
Historic fiction is my preferred stomping ground, but I’ve a reputation for venturing into multiple genres. I think journeying outside my comfort zone challenges me and helps me retain perspective as a reviewer which is how I found myself staring down a copy of Nina George’s contemporary romance, The Little Paris Bookshop.

Looking back, I can honestly say the story made almost no impression on me. I didn’t connect with any of the characters and I couldn’t rouse much enthusiasm for their personal trials. Jean, Manon, I couldn’t care less if you paid me. I found the romantic elements overly sentimental and was easily bored with the direction of the narrative. I tried my best, but it just didn’t take.

That said, I don’t consider the experience a total wash. I loved the idea of the literary apothecary and can’t deny falling for George’s prose. My notebook is covered with lines from the book, sentences that spoke directly to my love of literature. I wasn’t buying the story George was peddling, but I liked her point of view and how she captured the heart and soul of the literary community in plain black and white text.

At the end of the day, The Little Paris Bookshop wasn’t my cuppa tea. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I enjoyed the language and style in which the written. The setting was decent, but the plot plodding. Interesting from a literary perspective, but not the engaging tale I’d hoped for going in.
Profile Image for Rachelle.
97 reviews
July 2, 2015
This book was not what I hoped it would be. I really loved the idea of the floating book apothecary, and think so much more could have been done with that idea. In the end, though, this book was rather a disappointment. First, I didn't really love any of the characters, especially Manon, the woman Jean is so tortured with love for all these years. Why? She was selfish and didn't have any clue what commitment meant. Jean just came across as a fool who somewhere along the way mistook lust for love, and ruined his whole life over it. In fact, there was just way too much lust and not a whole lot of real love in this whole book. I had to skip a few too many pages. The flow wasn't great -it was all over the place, and some parts of Jean wallowing just got to be too much. And though much of the language and descriptions were quite poetic and lovely, it seemed like the narrator, Jean, Manon, and even Manon's mother all had the same voice: the author obviously loves beautiful language, but it didn't seem real to me that everyone would write that way. You can change the font, but it still sounds like it is coming from the same person. Hey, but at least I finished it, so that is saying something. I have to learn that just because a book has "Paris" and "books" in the title does not mean it is worth my time.
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,665 reviews440 followers
May 30, 2016
I love books about bookstores so I was excited to start "The Little Paris Bookshop". Monsieur Jean Perdu's literary apothecary is located on a barge moored on the Seine. Perdu senses people's needs and problems, and prescribes books that are perfect for each customer. Unfortunately, he has been unable to deal with his own heartache since the love of his life left him 21 years ago. His lover had left him a letter when she departed from Paris, but he waited 21 years to finally open it and feels shocked when her reason for leaving him is revealed.

Perdu, whose last name is French for "lost", is feeling adrift emotionally. The bookseller embarks on a healing journey to rediscover the wonderful things in life, using all his senses and letting go of his inhibitions. Perdu and Max Jordan, a young popular novelist suffering from writer's block, travel on the book barge through a series of canals to Provence. Their journey exposes them to all the sensory delights of life--the beautiful French countryside, wonderful food and wine, interesting people, and words of wisdom.

Their trip sounds like a magical journey that most of us would love. Unfortunately, the writing (or the translation) is so syrupy sweet that it starts to cloy after hundreds of pages. I started thinking about speakers I've heard at poetry lectures, art museums, and concerts--people in touch with their feelings--but couldn't come up with any guy so sugary in their speech. I felt that the author had a great idea for the book, and there were parts I enjoyed, but it was just overdone. 3 1/2 stars.
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