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The Paris Library: A Novel by Janet Skeslien…
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The Paris Library: A Novel (edition 2021)

by Janet Skeslien Charles (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6655426,767 (3.89)29
"Paris, 1939. Young, ambitious, and tempestuous, Odile Souchet has it all: Paul, her handsome police officer beau; Margaret, her best friend from England; her adored twin brother Remy; and a dream job at the American Library in Paris, working alongside the library's legendary director, Dorothy Reeder. But when World War II breaks out, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear - including her beloved library. After the invasion, as the Nazis declare a war on words and darkness falls over the City of Light, Odile and her fellow librarians join the Resistance with the best weapons they have: books. They risk their lives again and again to help their fellow Jewish readers. When the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal. Montana, 1983. Odile's solitary existence in gossipy small-town Montana is unexpectedly interrupted by Lily, her neighbor, a lonely teenager longing for adventure. As Lily uncovers more about Odile's mysterious past, they find they share a love of language, the same longings, the same lethal jealousy. Odile helps Lily navigate the troubled waters of adolescence by always recommending just the right book at the right time, never suspecting that Lily will be the one to help her reckon with her own terrible secret. Based on the true story of the American Library in Paris, The Paris Library explores the geography of resentment, the consequences of terrible choices made, and how extraordinary heroism can be found in the quietest of places"--… (more)
Member:Tosta
Title:The Paris Library: A Novel
Authors:Janet Skeslien Charles (Author)
Info:Atria Books (2021), 364 pages
Collections:2021 Torina read, Read, Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:2021read, historical-fiction, fiction, reading-women, books about books

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The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

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» See also 29 mentions

English (48)  Catalan (2)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (53)
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
At first I didn't like the juxtaposition of WWII paris and 80s Montana but it grew on me and wove together at the end. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and couldn't put it down once I got halfway through. ( )
  Tosta | Oct 13, 2021 |
This is a book about books. And love, and the harshness of WWII. It's about family and friends.

"The Paris Library" is really about "The American Library" in Paris and a young girl, Odile, that interviews and is overjoyed to get a job there. It's her first time working and she nervously can't wait. She has memorized the Dewey Decimal system which is still used in many libraries in countries. It's in this place, she finds deep friendships and love with Paul. Odile's family is very supportive.

When the WWII begins, it changes everything with trust, fear and prejudice. Their Jewish friends were no longer able to enter the library and books were then secretly dropped off to their homes. Stores were closed. Streets were no longer filled with "children laughing, someone playing the piano and cards being shuffled." Yet it's was library that provided people with a way to escape. "The war had divided us, but a love of literature would reunite us."

This book has two timelines with Odile as a young girl in the 1940s in Paris and then later we learn she left Paris with her new husband, an American pilot, to return to the states. Fast forward: her husband has passed and she is still living in her home in a small town of Montana in the 1980s. The town is so small that any news about anyone travels quickly. Yet secrets still remained.

There are many new books on the market with drama, love and WWII stories. Yet, if I can learn something new, then to me it's a good book. This is one that talked about the "crow letters" that were used to incriminate people based on notes from neighbors, colleagues, friends and family members. It was said that most notes were anonymous about the Jewish people. These "crows" were convinced they were doing their patriotic duty. It shows how easily people can turn on others.

To me, that is frightening. The question is always: could it happen again in some form? I am glad authors keep writing WWII stories. Hopefully readers will listen and learn so history doesn't repeat itself.







( )
  Jacsun | Oct 5, 2021 |
A book lover’s book! Meet the lively, courageous librarians at the American Library in Paris during WWII. This brilliantly-told story has love, danger, betrayal, and friendship worth vicariously living. ( )
  JoniMFisher | Oct 5, 2021 |
I wasn’t expecting a lot from this novel, since on the surface it looks like a typical historical fiction “book club pick” driven by the expected cast of female characters and light romance mixed in to a backdrop of World War II, but I was pleasantly surprised when I got caught up in the story. Yes, there are predictable thematic notes around the young Parisian protagonist, Odile, since we see her fall in love, struggle against the Nazi occupation of the city, and resist via her job with the American Library in Paris, but her story is none-the-less highly engaging. Obviously for me, a lot of the initial intrigue comes from the fact that she’s a librarian (and we all know librarians are not-so-secretly protestors and anarchists), but the truth of the real story of the American Library in Paris during WW2 gives the book a realism and uniqueness that hasn’t been explored elsewhere. In truth, the librarians did resist the Nazi occupation, and while I’m sure that certain parts of the story are exaggerated or wholly fictional, the book does what any good historical fiction should: it acts as an inspiration for further research, now that we’ve become invested in the characters and events in the story. Charles’ writing and characters bring us right to the heart of Paris’ citizens during the occupation, telling a story that explores a common, but extraordinary, experience within the City of Light. ( )
  JaimieRiella | Sep 22, 2021 |
3.5 stars
The Paris Library was an enjoyable read, full of feelings, interesting characters and one of my favourite settings for a book: a library! I was happy to know that the inspiration for this novel came from reality and that most characters existed.
However, I felt something was missing and the 80's timeline with Lily didn't add much to the story in my opinion. I would have prefered if Odile's character and timeline were more developed as well as the overall struggles of surviving during World War II while being able to keep working at the American Library in Paris.

The American Library in Paris



The American Library in Paris ( )
  _Marcia_94_ | Sep 21, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Janet Skeslien Charlesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Michalski, FreddyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my parents
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Numbers floated round my head like stars.
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People are awkward, they don't know what to do or say. Don't hold it against them; we never know what's in their hearts.
It was why I read---to glimpse other lives.
Grief is a sea made of your own tears. Salty swells cover the dark depths you must swim at your own pace. It takes time to build stamina. Some days, my arms sliced through the water, and I felt things would be okay, the shore wasn't so far off. Then one memory, one moment would nearly drown me, and I'd be back to the beginning, fighting to stay above the waves, exhausted, sinking in my own sorrow.
"But seriously, why books. Because no other things possesses that mystical faculty to make people see with other people's eyes. The Library is a bridge of books between cultures."
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"Paris, 1939. Young, ambitious, and tempestuous, Odile Souchet has it all: Paul, her handsome police officer beau; Margaret, her best friend from England; her adored twin brother Remy; and a dream job at the American Library in Paris, working alongside the library's legendary director, Dorothy Reeder. But when World War II breaks out, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear - including her beloved library. After the invasion, as the Nazis declare a war on words and darkness falls over the City of Light, Odile and her fellow librarians join the Resistance with the best weapons they have: books. They risk their lives again and again to help their fellow Jewish readers. When the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal. Montana, 1983. Odile's solitary existence in gossipy small-town Montana is unexpectedly interrupted by Lily, her neighbor, a lonely teenager longing for adventure. As Lily uncovers more about Odile's mysterious past, they find they share a love of language, the same longings, the same lethal jealousy. Odile helps Lily navigate the troubled waters of adolescence by always recommending just the right book at the right time, never suspecting that Lily will be the one to help her reckon with her own terrible secret. Based on the true story of the American Library in Paris, The Paris Library explores the geography of resentment, the consequences of terrible choices made, and how extraordinary heroism can be found in the quietest of places"--

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Janet Skeslien Charles is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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