The Paris library A novel

Janet Skeslien Charles

Book - 2021

"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 fall...s 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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1st Floor EXPRESS Shelf FICTION/Skeslien, Janet Due Jun 9, 2022
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Subjects
Genres
War stories
Historical fiction
War fiction
Published
New York : Atria Books 2021.
Edition
First Atria Books hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
353 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9781982134198
1982134194
9781982134204
1982134208
Main Author
Janet Skeslien Charles (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Odile Souchet lands her dream job at the American Library in Paris, much to the chagrin of her father, who thinks she should focus on finding a husband. But it is 1939, and soon she has bigger worries as Nazis occupy the city, and even the inimitable directress, Miss Reeder, cannot guarantee the safety of the library's books and patrons. Forty years later, in a small Montana town, Lily Jacobsen is curious about her quiet, elegant neighbor, and soon Odile Gustafson is giving her French lessons, and they're dreaming up their own library classification system. Chapters alternate between Odile in Paris, where readers get to know Boris, the Russian head librarian, eccentric patron Professor Cohen, and Odile's twin brother, Rémy, who enlists in the French army. In Montana, Lily relies on Odile for guidance through family and friend trouble, though she senses Odile is keeping a secret. Charles brings her experience working at the American Library in Paris to this novel inspired by real people, that is a love letter to Paris, the power of books, and the beauty of intergenerational friendship. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

It's 1939 when Odile gets her dream job as a librarian at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis move in to occupy France, the library is allowed to stay open. Odile, along with a small band of librarians, patrons, and volunteers, form a secret resistance that includes hiding forbidden titles and delivering books to banished Jewish patrons. Despite the horrors of war, the library is the constant that keeps her going. In 1983 in a small Montana town, 12-year-old Lily uses a school report as an excuse to meet her mysterious French neighbor. The older woman helps Lily through her tumultuous teen years, offering books, advice, and refuge. In Charles's second novel (after Moonlight in Odessa), Odile is a complex character, both brave and childish. She can be unforgiving and impetuous as she watches the war make good people do bad things. Through her interactions with Lily, her regrets and the one betrayal for which she cannot forgive herself are revealed.VERDICT Plan for extra copies, as this tale has all the hallmarks of a book club pick. [See "Seasonal Selections," LJ 2/20.]—Vicki Briner, Broomfield, CO Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Charles (Moonlight in Odessa) delivers a delightful chronicle of a woman's life in WWII-era Paris and rural 1980s Montana. Shortly before the Germans invade France, Odile Souchet, a young Parisian who has adored the American Library in Paris since childhood lands a job there as a librarian. During the occupation, the library remains open and delivers books to soldiers. After Odile learns that her friend Margaret has become enamored with Felix, a Nazi soldier, she tells her fiancé, Paul, a policeman, of Margaret's folly, and is shocked when Paul beats Margaret, leading Odile to leave and volunteer at the American Hospital. Charles then skips forward to 1983 Froid, Mont., where seventh-grader Lily befriends her widowed neighbor Odile Gustafson, who teaches her French and reveals secrets about her life in Paris. Their bond strengthens throughout Lily's teenage years. Charles's richly detailed plot incorporates historical figures from the American Library and highlights the perils of occupied Paris. Historical fiction fans will be drawn to the realistic narrative and the bond of friendship forged between a widow and a lonely young girl. Agent: Heather Jackson, Heather Jackson Literary. (Feb.) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"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"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Based on a true story, describes how a lonely, 1980s teenager befriends an elderly neighbor and uncovers her past as a librarian at the American Library in Paris who joined the Resistance when the Nazis arrived. 200,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

An instant New York Times, Washington Post, and USA TODAY bestseller—based on the true story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris during World War II—The Paris Library is a moving and unforgettable “ode to the importance of libraries, books, and the human connections we find within both” (Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author). Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet seems to have the perfect life with her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into the city, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.“A love letter to Paris, the power of books, and the beauty of intergenerational friendship” (Booklist), The Paris Libraryshows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest places.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Instant New York Times bestsellerUSA TODAY and Washington Post bestsellerLibraryReads Pick and named a Most Anticipated Book of the Year by Library Journal and Goodreads'''''Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife.Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor's mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are'family, friends, and favorite authors'The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.