I was in a quandary whether to mention The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George in my culture notes since it has elicited such opposing opinions. Two different friends who read a lot absolutely hated this book. Written by a German author who has a home in France, the novel has been an international bestseller in several European countries and received a favorable review from Oprah.com so I decided to give it a try despite mixed reactions.
In short, while the book has several flaws, including some insisting George misses the mark in describing male emotions, I enjoyed this lyrical story about the power of books, travel, music and food to heal the wounds of grief, self-recrimination and lost love. It even has recipes at the back of the book.
Yes, some of the characters do improbable things. Most people wouldn’t wait twenty years to open a letter, nor would they take their book-laden Parisian barge on a river road trip through the heart of France. If you can read it as magical realism akin to books Like Water For Chocolate or The Night Circus, you will perhaps have a more forgiving literary experience.*
If you like short novels set in Paris and the provinces of France and you don’t mind characters who talk about literature, you could do a lot worse than this light and charming work of fiction by Nina George. Then again, you may be in the other camp who would rather eat moldy French bread with rancid butter than read this book. Vive la difference!
*I had to jog my memory about the definition of magical realism. Here is one description:
Magical Realism is a wonderful literary device, one in which the reader is invited to use ones five senses and imagination to get to the depth of the story. It is more common in Latin-American literature. Magical realism invites the reader to look at the normal surroundings and simply accept the magical elements that may occur.