by Janet Skeslien Charles
The Paris Library is a novel that I highly recommend even with the abundance of choice in WWII historical fiction. The importance of the American Library and the commitment of those who worked there is a reminder of how important books are, perhaps even more so, when the world is in chaos. Readers will enjoy the many books that are named over the course of the novel. They would make for a good TBR list.
All good novels tell stories about characters. This one is peopled with those that readers will get to know with all of their strengths and flaws. Some are good, some not so good and some a mix of the two. All are brought to life.
Odile is a young woman when the story opens. She lives with her father, who is in the police, her brother, an idealist, and her mother who eventually learns that her husband is involved in an affair. Odile has always loved books and lands her dream job at the American Library. There she meets a wide ranging group of patrons and staff. Her brother’s fiance, Bitsy, also works at the library. Odile gets to know Margaret as well; she is a British ex pat and another key protagonist.
Each of these characters faces the war, issues of loyalty and friendship and disillusion. Their intertwining stories are well depicted as are the many settings in the novel.
Odile’s romantic interest for much of the book is Paul. He, too, is a policeman. Readers will follow as some of his decisions make Odile even more aware of the cruelty of war.
As is true of many novels written today, there is a dual story line. This takes place in Froid, Montana where Odile came to live. There a young girl befriends Odile and tries to figure out her own life in the aftermath of her mother’s death. There is much that Odile has to teach her young friend.
I both listened to and read this story. The narration was flawless with individuals coming to life with different voices and accents. It was a wonderful listen.
I highly recommend this book. I hope that readers will enjoy it.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title. All opinions are my own.