In 1939 Paris, the future looks bright for Odile Souchet. She has just been hired by the American Library in Paris and is now part of an exciting world of book lovers including librarians, writers, diplomats and intellectuals. But as the Nazis invade Paris, the world around her drastically changes. Not only are people being persecuted but there is a threat to her beloved library and its thousands of treasured books.
The story takes us to 1983 in Montana, a world far from Paris. Odile is now a lonely widow. She develops a close bond with Lily, a young teenager, who is facing many challenges including a dying mother. Lily is very smart and is intrigued by this mysterious old woman who is clearly hiding many secrets. Odile sees a lot of herself in Lily. Their relationship is endearing.
As much as this is a wartime tale, the elements of friendship, love and betrayal provide the main appeal.
While the story of Odile is fiction, many of the colorful characters from the American Library were real and exhibited great heroism in the face of the enemy showing their love for books. They managed to keep the Library open during the war and fearlessly brought books to Jewish members after the Nazis banned them from using the library.
The Paris Library was a little slow starting but the pace picked up providing an interesting, enjoyable and worthwhile read.
Many thanks to Atria Books, NetGalley and author Janet Skeslien Charles for an advance copy.
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: February 9, 2021.
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