I picked up this book on recommendation from my mother and I was not disappointed. This is one of the most beautiful novels I have ever read. Even now its story has stayed with me.
The book starts off with the main character, Jean Perdu. Jean runs a literary apothecary barge in Paris. He prescribes books to remedy all troubles. Yet, he struggles to face his own.
Twenty years ago the love of his life, Manon, left him. To cope with the loss he stops experiencing life. He simply exists. His only passion the books he prescribes to his customers. His only solace a book called Southern Lights by an unknown author.
When a woman moves into the flats where he lives everything changes. He is drawn to this woman, Catherine. Also, he gives her a table as she has no furniture. Inside the table is a letter Manon wrote twenty years ago that he put away unread.
Encouraged by Catherine he reads the letter and by doing so shatters his entire world. Manon was dying. She wrote to him that she tried to leave him so he wouldn’t see her at the end but she doesn’t care. She wants him to come to her. In the village where she lives with her husband, Luc. To see him one last time before the end. But she understands if he doesn’t want to come.
Jean is unhinged by this revelation. He always knew Manon was married. She was a free spirit who lived two lives to the knowledge of her husband. But he never suspected the reason she left was she was dying. Nor that for the past twenty years she has been dead.
Jean feels totally and utterly lost. He unmoors his barge and sets off in pursuit of finding himself, Manon and the author of his beloved Southern Lights. He is accompanied by Max. Famous author, resident at his flats, and confused young man.
On their journey they meet many people. Jean continually prescribing his books for various maladies of the soul. He, himself is grieving for a love he now knows is dead.
Ultimately he reaches the village of Manon. Where he faces the memory of his lost love and his choices.
This novel taught me that you have to be brave in life. You have to go after your dreams, love hard, pick yourself up after a fall and never stop living.
I cannot recommend this book enough. It was simply beautiful. Nina George weaves such magic into her story that it pours into your soul. Nina’s characters will each infuse your heart and their wisdom and stories will resonate with you.
Whatever you do, make sure you read this book.
Get it here! The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George