The Paris Library [Book Review] #ThrowbackThursday #HistoricalFiction #WWII

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

The Paris Library is a well-written and engaging story of resistance during WW11 at the American Library in Paris.

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles (cover) Imaged: a woman sits with her back to the camera on a wall overlooking Paris and the Eiffel Tower in the background

Genre/Categories/Setting: WW11, Historical Fiction, Paris, Books About Books, Books About Libraries/Librarians, Paris

Welcome to #ThrowBackThursday where I highlight an older review or post a current review of a back list title. Today, I’m sharing a histfic book about books and libraries, The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles.

I’m linking up with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #ThrowbackThursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Resistance in a silent and unlikely place…

The Paris Library is a dual timeline story of family, friendship, resistance, romance, betrayal, heroism, bravery, and books. In 1939, idealistic, courageous, and ambitious Odile Souchet works at the American Library in Paris when the Nazis arrive. Odile and the other librarians negotiate to keep the library open so they can protect the books and also make secret deliveries to their Jewish patrons. In 1983, Lily, a lonely teenager living in Montana, befriends a mysterious and reclusive, elderly, French neighbor woman and discovers they have a great deal in common.

black and white picture of the American Library in Paris

American Library in Paris Image Source: Wikipedia

“Books are the fresh air breathed in to keep the heart beating, to keep the brain imagining, to keep hope alive.”

Continue here for my full review of The Paris Library…


Do you love books about books and books about libraries?
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  1. The quality of the writing was in general a problem for me. I liked the fact that the style was straightforward and there were occasional things that stood out like when Odile says she wishes she could flick forward the pages of her life, but otherwise it was creative writing class 101. And if something was worth saying she said it at least twice – the flicking forward thing got a repeat, the France Kafka joke was reprised etc etc. the 1st person narrative was also a problem at times with the narrator having to ascribe thoughts and feelings to other characters that she couldn’t really know. And the author clearly recognised this an started inserting third person chapters for other characters like Margaret and Boris.

    I wasn’t actually sure if the whole thing wasn’t a YA novel. The accessible prose, the discrete way that sex and violence was dealt with, the fact that the both narratives are about the coming of age of teenage girls.

    I’m not convinced that the book needed the US element at all and wonder whether this is simply autobiographical ego on the part of the author? We don’t get enough about Odile’s US life to really connect with it. There’s no real exploration of the intervening 40 years and how they turned Odile into such a wise old bird full of sagacious advise and clever aphorisms. There are hints that there might be some underlying mystery to Odile but no not really. one thing that did amuse me though – given Odile’s rapturous feelings for libraries it was surely inevitable that she’d jump at the chance to marry someone called “Buck”…

  2. Hi Carol,
    thanks for your little review. We didn’t know this book but now we’ll have have a look at it as we collect books about books and libraries.
    Have a happy weekend
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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