Das Lavendelzimmer, by Nina George, was published in 2013. It was translated into English by Simon Pare in 2015 as The Little Paris Bookshop and became a New York Times bestseller.
Monsieur Perdu knows all of the other residents of 27 Rue Montagnard, but they know hardly anything about him. He doesn’t mind. They don’t know that his apartment contains hardly any furniture, or that he keeps one room locked behind a bookcase.
Monsieur Perdu owns a barge moored on the Seine. The barge contains a bookshop named Literary Apothecary. There, he sells people the books they need, rather than the books they want.
As the name of his bookshop suggests, Monsieur Perdu practices bibliotherapy. He diagnoses customers’ needs based on initial conversations, and prescribes a book as if he were prescribing medicine. He tells them not only what book they should read, but how they should read it.
In order to help a new neighbor in need of a table, Monsieur Perdu has opened that room behind the bookcase – she called it the Lavender Room. Now, his life is filled with memories of her.
Monsieur Jean Perdu lives life vicariously – curing others’ pain while ignoring his own. That room, that table, and his neighbor, are forcing him to take action.
The Little Paris Bookshop suddenly becomes a river-and-road-trip story. The map of Jean Perdu’s journey is at the front of the book. It is a loving travelogue of Providence, France.
The Little Paris Bookshop is a love story. It’s a story about love lost and love found. It’s also a story about the love of books.
It’s a road trip story, it’s a tragedy, and it’s a comedy.
After the end of the book, there is a section of recipes from Provence, followed by “Jean Perdu’s Emergency Literary Pharmacy”. (My favorite entry is George Orwell’s 1984: “Reduces gullibility and apathy”.)
I enjoyed The Little Paris Bookshop. It was a good book to end the 2016 Reading Challenge on.
- A New York Times bestseller