Do you like stories that have dual POVs or timelines? I think it lends well to certain stories, and in the case of The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles, it definitely worked. I love historical fiction set during WWII, and the library setting just helped enhance my enjoyment. Big thanks to Netgalley for the copy!
|Pub Date: 2-9-21|
Adult - Historical Fiction
Odile Souchet lives a charmed life. She landed her dream job at the American Library in Paris, she’s courting a handsome police officer, and she has a loving family even if her father drives her crazy most of the time. Odile believes she’s on track for living the life that she’s always wanted, but everything changes once war breaks out and the Nazi’s take over Paris. With her twin brother off fighting, Odile takes it upon herself to help out at home wherever possible. She and the rest of the staff at the Library join forces to help smuggle books to those deemed “unfit” to enter the premises and to soldiers all over to keep up morale. When the war comes to an end, Odile is hopeful that the horrors and heartbreaks she’s endured are finally over, but unfortunately, instead of her happily ever after she’s left with only more betrayal from those closest to her.
Lily is a lonely teenager in a small town in Montana. She longs for adventure and the world outside the wide stretches of farmland that surround her. Nothing piques Lily’s curiosity more than her elderly neighbor, Odile. Lily is fascinated by this strange, solitary, elegant woman. The pair strike up an unusual friendship based on their mutual love of stories, languages, and the same longing to live their lives to the fullest. The more time they spend together, the more they start to view one another as family, but will their newfound foundation start to crumble after a dark secret from the past comes to light?
I’m a sucker for books about libraries, and couple that with the fact that this is based around the true history of the librarians at the American Library in Paris, and you’ve got me hook, line and sinker. I enjoyed how this was set in two different timelines and places, both Paris during WWII and Montana in the 1980s, and also from the POVs of a young, ambitious Odile and Lily, an awkward teen. From a historical point, I did enjoy Odile’s chapters more because it was fascinating reading about Paris during the war and the library itself. These chapters especially came across as very atmospheric and heartbreaking, but also hopeful. Lily was a fine enough character and I liked seeing her grow and develop as the book went on, but she just didn’t interest me as much as Odile did. If you enjoy well-written stories about friendship, family, and the power of books, I’d definitely recommend it.