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 buy. 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.