The Paris Bookseller is historical fiction about Sylvia Beach, those around her and her iconic bookstore, Shakespeare and Company. This is the story of a part of Sylvia’s life; it moves from when she began living in Paris and on into the 1930s. An author’s note at the end of the novel, gives information about Sylvia’s long life and what happened to her following the events of this story.
Readers learn early on that Sylvia was in a significant relationship with Adrienne. The author portrays great historical acceptance for gay relationships at that time. Adrienne, who owned a bookstore, encouraged Sylvia to open her own shop, one that was to feature books for English speakers. The two had a strong attraction to one another and lived together during the events described in the story.
Sylvia’s store becomes very popular with a number of ex pats, including Hemingway and Henry Miller. However, the author with whom Sylvia was most closely associated was James Joyce. She was instrumental in the initial publication of Ulysses. The struggle around getting the book written and published make up much of the novel.
The characters in the story are real people who are brought to imaginative life. I was especially struck by the way in which Joyce was portrayed. True, he was an iconic author but he was also a difficult, narcissistic and needy man in these pages.
Author, Kerri Maher, does a good job of depicting a place, the people who dwelt there and the importance of books. I also enjoyed the way in which daily life, food and more came into the novel.
Those who enjoy historical fiction are likely to want to read this novel. I rate it at four stars.
From the Publisher
“A beautiful ode to Sylvia Beach, the renowned Shakespeare and Company owner, a real-life heroine who has left her mark on us all.”
—Marie Benedict, New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Personal Librarian
“If you ever dreamed you could transport yourself to Paris in the twenties, to Sylvia Beach’s famous bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, where Joyce, Hemingway, and Pound wandered the aisles, this story’s for you. Maher’s magical touch brings to life a woman whose struggles resonate in today’s world, while also examining the intricacies of friendship, fortitude, and the love of the written word.”
—Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue
“The Paris Bookseller is a novel I long to live in, a vivid evocation of the famous female-owned Parisian bookshop Shakespeare and Company which acted as haven and home to the literati of pre-WWII Europe. Heroine and shop owner Sylvia Beach shepherds seemingly all of the great writers of the 20th century with an appealing blend of warmth, wit, frustration, and understanding. Kerri Maher writes a love letter to books, bookstores, and booklovers everywhere.”
—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code
“A story about Paris and bookshops was bound to find a place in my heart but this one has the pièce de résistance: the character of Sylvia Beach. I was completely enthralled by Beach’s life and her tenacity in founding the first English-language bookshop in Paris, while also publishing James Joyce’s epic but controversial Ulysses. With an abundance of delightful cameos from all of your favourite literary heroes as well as a fascinating rendering of Paris’s glory days during the 1920s and 30s, this novel will transport you as only the best historical fiction can.”
—Natasha Lester, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Secret