The Little Paris Bookshop- by Nina George

A book translated to English from a different language…..

I bought this book using some vouchers I was given for Christmas from my little boy. I didn’t realise it had been translated until I delved further, but yes, it was written in French and then translated to English so perfect for this category. I’m not really sure why I chose this book in particular to bThe little Paris bookshopuy. It doesn’t have the front cover I am normally attracted to; I thought it might be lacking in substance and depth, but it was on the book chart so thought it worth a go if others had enjoyed it so much.

The book is about a man called Jean who is wallowing in an enormous hole of self pity and bitterness after his lover, Manon, didn’t return to him one day. He isolates himself from most of society and concentrates solely on his book barge and ‘treating’ peoples’ emotions with books, prescribing some and refusing to sell others. One day a new lady, Catherine,  who is also sad and recently singled after a lonely marriage moves into the flat upstairs with nothing , so Jean provides her with a table; something he can spare. Inside the table however, Catherine, discovers a letter from Manon that he had decided not to read for the 20 years he has been by himself. Eventually he does though and much to Jeans detriment he discovers the real reason his lover did not return. Things change after this, he strikes up a relationship with his new neighbor but it is empty, neither are ready for what they both want. Jean then embarks on a journey, on his book barge  that leads him to discovery, peace and ultimately happiness.

I loved this book from the beginning. It was sad but it caught me. I wanted to read more and straight away I had empathy for the man’s heartbreaking situation. It made me want to cry, despairing over the waste of life. It was easy to read and understand without a hint of pretentiousness; it simply told the tale. I loved the fact it didn’t add any twists because it really didn’t need any and in my opinion would ave spoiled the genuine tale; I knew what would happen but I really didn’t mind (which is unusual,) I just enjoyed being part of it as it unfolded, making me cry again.

I found the story similar, in a very good way to Eat, Pray, Love- Elizabeth Gilbert. A book of self discovery and most of all finding happiness. Eat, Pray, Love desperately made me want to visit Italy, learn Italian and travel from there. The Little Paris Bookshop has made me want to spend time in France especially to visit the small vineyard towns and villages, steeped in history and romance with my husband (minus the children) drinking wine and eating smelly cheese.

This is a really beautiful book and I will be recommending it to many as a heart reaching novel to shed some tears but also warm your soul.

4 out of 5 stars.

Black Opera- Mary Gentle

A book that is more than 600 page…………

Black Opera is 670……a long 670. I can’t tell you why I chose to read this book. I suppose I was in a rush at the library and it was the first that caught my eye. It looked quite dark and mysterious and I like that. It wasn’t what I expected…..but then did I have any expectations in mind?

Black Opera is as it says in the title really…its about opera. It’s all about opera and Italy. The main character is a man, Conrad, with many versions of his name is goes by. Conrad finds himself in a spot of bother, being an atheist and after an opera house is burnt down, supposedly by God because of Conrad. On his way to imprisonment, he is summoned by the King of the two Sicilies, Ferndinand. Ferdinand discloses information about a secret, Devil worshiping cult called The Princes Men who plot to use opera to cause a catastrophic natural disaster. Conrad has been summoned to produce a counter opera to stop this from happening. Working alongside Conrad is Roberto De Caspiro a prolific, genius composer with a cold personality and a wife who happens also to be a love lost from Conrad’ past. I won’t go further into the plot so as not to spoil it for anybody who is or wants to read the book but the question on mine and I expect most reader lips is; will the miracle be stopped?

I really struggled with this book from the beginning. It didn’t catch me, capture me or invoke me. I couldn’t identify with the characters and struggled to keep up with the terminology. I think you would need to be an opera enthusiast at least for it to appeal. I struggled with the fact that there are ‘returned dead’ and ghosts around. For me a book either needs to be fantasy with clear paranormal activity from the beginning or it clearly doesn’t, and to me this book felt as though ghosts were there for story line convenience. I patiently persisted for the first 400 pages and had a spark of interest when Leonora reveals herself but then soon lost it again. I must admit the final 160 pages were flicked through and the last pages read. I couldn’t endure much more with other inviting books waiting to be read. To me it was all a little bit far fetched and the bottom line was that I just didn’t believe it.

If you are an opera fan then I’m sure you would have much more success with this book than I did. Although I really struggled it is a book that I imagine once your teeth are stuck into is epic; just not more me.

1 star out of 5