By: Janet Skeslien Charles

Published: February 9, 2021

Publisher: Atria Books

Historical Fiction

Book lovers and historical fiction fans unite in a book that celebrates libraries, books, relationships, and hope. This novel is based on real people that risked their own lives to keep the American Library in Paris open during WWII. These librarians and volunteers made sure books were still in the hands of readers no matter what.

The library was more than bricks and books; its mortar was people who cared…The library felt like home.

Odile – THE PARIS LIBRARY by Janet Skeslien Charles

Odile, a librarian in the American Library in Paris, begins her story in 1933 and takes us through the war in Paris to September 1944. Other chapters focus on a new character, Lily in 1983, in Montana. Lily is Odile’s teenage neighbor. As their lives intersect, more of Odile’s story is shared along with Lily’s and we learn more about these two characters and how necessary they are to each other.

But seriously, why books. Because no other thing possesses that mystical faculty to make people see with other people’s eyes. The Library is a bridge of books between cultures.

Odile – THE PARIS LIBRARY by Janet Skeslien Charles

I fell in love with this story from nearly the first page. I shed tears of grief and tears of joy. I nervously trembled in fear and let out my breath when the characters were safe on the next page. I connected with the characters and reminisced over my own childhood and adult library experiences. When one of my own favorite books was quoted, THE LONG WINTER or THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD, I longed to read the stories again.

Libraries are lungs…Books the fresh air breathed in to keep the heart beating, to keep the brain imagining, to keep hope alive.

Miss Reeder – THE PARIS LIBRARY by Janet Skeslien Charles

Since you realize, early on that Odile eventually ended up in Montana, a place so far removed from her life in Paris, there is a mystery that builds until nearly the end of how this happened. I empathized with Odile’s loneliness and was joyous over her relationship with Lily. When a betrayal affects that relationship, I ached for their friendship on the pages.

Of course, he knew something was wrong, he was a librarian—part psychologist, bartender, bouncer, and detective.

Odile – THE PARIS LIBRARY by Janet Skeslien Charles

The author places readers in the heart of the American Library in Paris, into the minds of the characters, and allows you to feel right along with their passions. Her attention to detail was just the right amount. I never felt overwhelmed or confused by the narrative of the story or the characters’ reactions. It was a story I didn’t want to end.

What you did was amazing. You gave subscribers hope. You showed that during the worst of times, people were still good. You saved books and people. You risked your life to defy the fricking Nazis. That’s huge.

Lily – THE PARIS LIBRARY by Janet Skeslien Charles

Even though this story is set during WWII, it’s a different type of story that offers a much different perspective than I’ve ever read during this time. As a reader, you know the horrors that are happening both inside and outside of Paris, but, instead, in this story, we are exposed to a different type of resistance, heroes that were willing to put themselves at risk just to deliver a book to a friend. As a reader, I can identify with that type of determination and loyalty in a character. If you love historical fiction, books about books, or character-driven stories, then rush to your library or bookstore to grab a copy.

Janet Skeslien Charles is the award-winning author of MOONLIGHT IN ODESSA. She learned about the history of the American Library in Paris while working there as the programs manager. She divides her time between Montana and Paris.

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.
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