I loved Paris, a city with secrets. Like book covers, some leather, some cloth, each Parisian door led to an unexpected world.
We follow Odile Souchet as she applies to be a librarian in an English-speaking library in Paris, 1939.
She quickly falls in love with a police officer beau, finds a new friend among the library’s patrons and thrives on the challenge, and is finding her purpose by serving the community.
But then, the unthinkable happens.
War is declared. And then it comes to her library.
Odile wants nothing more to continue working with the patrons, finding them books and living peacefully but as the Nazi regulations are put into place, she finds it more and more difficult to stay out of the situation.
And we also follow Odile in 1983 as she lives in a small town in Montana – widowed and isolated.
The small town sees Odile as an outsider and she truly feels the isolation. But then, the little neighbor girl knocks on her door.
Lily, a lonely girl, is trying to escape from her own situation.
Dad and I hovered at the side of Mom’s hospital bed. She tried to smile but her lips just quivered.
The two lost souls find solace in each other, and soon a grandmother-granddaughter relationship begins to form.
I was skeptical about soulmates, but could believe in bookmates, two beings bound by a passion for reading.
I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I’m not normally one for war books and war books riddled with flashbacks and flashforwards.
The two stories felt fairly balanced. I was a little more drawn to the “modern” day one (with Lily in it) but overall, it worked pretty well.
I loved the aspect of the library and how Odile’s world was so carefully built (only for it to come crashing down).
The pacing of the book felt a bit slow…and yet it was the kind of slow that I enjoyed. I loved the details, the attention to various aspects of the 1900s and the whole immersion experience.
All in all, I was really entranced by this book and the ending was the crescendo that I was waiting for.
A huge thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and Janet Skeslien Charles for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.