The Paris Library: A Novel
by Skeslien Janet Charles
Hardcover- $17.58

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  "friendship, the love of books and libraries, regrets, giving advice, and forgiveness." by Silversolara (see profile) 02/09/21

The American Library in Paris 1939 then to a small town in Montana 1983.

Odile is a librarian at the American Library in Paris as the war breaks out. Lily is a teenager in Montana whose mother passed and is having trouble at school.

Both women find solace in each other after Lily finally meets her elegant neighbor from Paris.

THE PARIS LIBRARY moves back and forth and allows us to see into the lives of both characters.

Odile has the perfect job until it was necessary to provide books in secret.

Lily has the perfect life - well almost perfect - until her mother dies, but Odile helped her through this time and Lily helped Odile to not be so alone.

I enjoyed how the staff at the library was like a family itself and how the library delivered books to soldiers and others who couldn’t enter or were forbidden to enter the library. I never knew this happened.

Both Lily and Odile were very likeable characters. I truly enjoyed watching Lily grow up.

THE PARIS LIBRARY will appeal to all bookworms, romantics, and historical fiction fans.

It is heartwarming as well as heartbreaking, and despite the heartaches most of the characters were lighthearted and positive.

Once you get to know the characters, you will cry with them, wish them well, and not want them to leave you alone as you close the last page.

This book is about friendship, the love of books and libraries, regrets, giving advice, and forgiveness.

Ms. Skeslien Charles' research is impeccable. 4/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 
  "Historic fiction about a little known group in Paris during WWII." by thewanderingjew (see profile) 03/08/21

The Paris Library, Janet Skeslien Charles, author; Nicky Diss, Sarah Feathers, Esther Wane, narrators.
This is not your typical book about the times that frame The Holocaust. It concentrates on the plight of the Germans and the foreigners who suddenly found themselves persona non grata in a city they loved, Paris. It revolves around The American Public Library there, and the real people who were employed during that time are featured in this novel. When the war came, it brought out the best and the worst in people, and the library was a microcosm of that world. This book features two stories, side by side. One is about Odile Souchet. It begins in 1939 and covers her experiences in Paris during Hitler’s reign of terror. The other is about Lily, in 1983. She is a 7th grader, and she is obsessed with her reclusive, elderly neighbor, Odile, who now lives in America.
Odile lives in Paris, at a time when women are thought to only have a place in the home, when women are only expected to be wives and mothers. Her parents are strict and rigid with rules they expect her to follow. They want her to marry, but Odile wants to work. She fell in love with The American Library in Paris, which was introduced to her by a favorite Aunt Carol, who is no longer a part of her life. She was ostracized because of her failed marriage. Odile applies for a job at the library which connects her to the memories of her aunt. When she gets the job as a librarian, she is thrilled. The library is viewed as a community resource that unites the people and encourages learning and relationships. When Hitler’s rules prevent some patrons from using the library, those in charge want to continue to make it the haven it always was, and they organize shipments of books to the soldiers training for the coming war. When Hitler’s rules forbade certain citizens from using the library, the librarians secretly delivered books to them, at great risk to themselves.
Lily lives in Froid, Montana, where Odile Gustafson is now living. Neither she nor Odile have many friends. Both are lonely. She devises a plan to find out more about Odile by interviewing her for a school report. Both females are headstrong and their immaturity and naïveté, sometimes led them to make very foolish decisions, without complete information, leading to errors in judgment and unintended consequences.
One day, Lily approaches Odile’s door. When she knocks, no one answers. Rudely, when she finds the door unlocked, she enters. After the encounter is resolved, she asks her if she can interview her and a relationship grows between Odile and Lily. When her mom falls ill, Odile steps in. When her father remarries, Odile’s shoulder is there to lean on. Odile and Lily save each other from their fears and sadness, and they explore their selfishness together. In a sense, although separated by decades in years, they come of age together, too.
The book exposes the sins we are all capable of committing because of misunderstandings, rash judgments or petty jealousy and greed, especially during times of great stress. Both Odile and Lily often let their selfishness get the better of them. Their behavior was sometimes reprehensible. The book examines what are we capable of when we are angry, why we make foolish choices, how we judge others and allow false conclusions to inflict harm to others. What would the reader be capable of doing in order to survive or extract vengeance? Could we control our baser instincts or would we sink to the level of our barbaric enemies?
Reading about the library and the way it functioned was very interesting because today libraries are completely automated. Some personal relationships develop, but the lifestyle of the library and the patron doesn’t encourage it as much. Activities are more organized and do not grow out of a spontaneous need for information or a quiet place to work and do research, often getting personalized help. In Odile’s time, The Dewey Decimal System and card catalogues were the means by which books were arranged, shelved and borrowed. Librarians researched questions that patrons brought to them, and often, warm relationships between librarians and subscriber's developed. There were no computers and everything was done by hand and by individuals.
The well researched book, as a part of history, is a five, but it descended into the realm of romance more strongly and that made it a four, for me.

 
  "" by ebach (see profile) 05/05/21

I read THE PARIS LIBRARY because it is historical fiction, but I thought it would be written for an adult. It seemed, however, to be a lower reading level, closer to what I would have liked when I was in the eighth or ninth grade.

Some chapters of this book are about 1939 Paris; the other chapters are about 1983 Montana. I found both to be boring.

In 1939 Paris is young Odile, who works at the American Library in Paris. This part is boring mainly because it is so, so slow. We hear about every little bit of her life and are left to wonder, when will something happen, for too long.

The Montana chapters are told from the perspective of Lily, a junior-high-school-age girl, who becomes a friend of her next-door neighbor, Odi?e, now an older woman. These chapters, too, are slow and made me wonder, what is their purpose, for too long.

I cannot recommend this book to most adult readers. However, I do recommend it for some teenagers.

I won this book from Atria Books.

 
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