Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.
After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.
Our group was evenly divided on this month’s book with a clear division between those who thoroughly enjoyed Little Paris Bookshop and those who simply found it too slow and frankly, boring.
This poses an interesting question … how can the same group of readers, who quite plainly agree on one novel, find themselves on opposite poles with another?
The main arguments centre around not the content or plot, but the pace of the storyline and speed in which the plot unfolds. Everyone agreed that the idea of having a library on a barge, in France, with a librarian who will offer you the perfect book, is a very fanciful but beautiful proposition. This alone would be enough to draw in most readers, but where the coming together of multiple characters on a journey of discovery of the past (usually an unbeatable theme) seems to fail in this instance is a little hard to identify.
It could be something as simple as the wrong book at the wrong time for some of our readers. Those who enjoyed Little Paris felt it was a pleasant, ‘feel good’ read and found the pace as relaxing and soothing as the Seine itself. If you are not in the mood for such a leisurely stroll through the pages, it could grate.
Or maybe you needed to have visited France to feel the true emotions of the book? Then again, this is a translation, so perhaps something has been lost in the conversion …
It could be any or all of these things, but which ever, it seems to be the unwritten rule that one can never be certain a novel will please or disappoint. The only real given is that every novel holds something different for everyone. So in most cases, the joy (or lack of) a book can bring belongs entirely to the reader, and can not the responsibility of the writer.