On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop - or, rather, a 'literary apothecary', for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers. The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself.
He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust - until now.
The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop, and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.
©2013 Nina George (P)2015 Isis Audiobooks
"Nina George tells us clever things about love, about literature that 'puts a bounce in your step', about tango in Provence. One of those books that gets you thinking about whom you must give it to as a gift even while you're still reading it, because it makes you happy, and should be part of any well-stocked apothecary." (Hamburg Morning Post)
"The feelgood story." (Grazia Germany)
"Enchanting and moving.... Rarely have I read such a beautiful book!" (Tina Magazine)
Overall it's a sweet little story with pleasant characters. The pace varied quite a bit, with long reflective passages, and it was a tad predictable, but overall enjoyable. Don't miss the recipes and book recommendations at the end!
A very French story full of blighted live and healing, steeped in love of literature. An evocative tale, full of eccentric characters that takes us on a journey from Paris, along the Seine, through the country-side to Provence and the south coast. Bonus recipes at the end.
This is one of those books you want to hug and never stop reading. Have no idea bout the author but she "got it"
"My Southern Lights"
I just love this book.
I feel that, had I walked into the Literary Apothecary, this is the novel Monsieur Perdu would have prescribed for me. It resonated so deeply with me, that I am tempted to call it my ‘Southern Lights’.
If you ever loved deeply and lost that love, if you struggled to love again, this is the book prescription for you.
Almost every sentence is a sensory delight, laden with insights and truths about the human condition and the beauty of the landscape.
It is a tale of the loss of love and the loss of self. It is about reawakening and ultimately it is a joyous celebration of the frailty of the heart.
I first listened to the audio version of the book and loved it so much that I also bought the Kindle version. And I plan to buy in in paper too so that I can keep it with my other prised books.
The thing is, if I realised before my purchase that this book had been translated, I most possibly would not have bought it. I am so glad I made that 'mistake'.
The translation is sensitive and very well done. I will not hesitate to read another novel by Nina George. And I definitely will look out for other books translated by Simon Pare.
If you've loved with passion and lost and experienced grief with the same depth of feeling, you will relate to this story. I loved the characters, the friendships and the sensitive way they are portrayed. The descriptions of the French landscapes and culture really sent me there.
Having lived on a narrow boat, I could identify with all the joys and challenges of life encountered on the waterways.
This tale managed to touch a chord in me and made me laugh and cry and think about life and the importance of not wasting a moment, especially with those we love.
If you are young, herein lies very good advice. If, like me, you are in the autumn of your life, you will identify with some of the themes and enjoy this heart warming tale of love, friendship, grief and the joy we can find when we feel all hope is lost.
Beautifully written, wonderful narrator. I'm recommending this to all my friends. Just lovely. *sigh*
"Who can't love Paris, a bookstore, and canal barge"
The descriptions of the characters and the scenery being travelled on the barge
It's just a gentle, relaxing story that allows your imagination to wander through beautiful scenery.
I really loved Ray's performance and can't associate with the review who described it as monotonous - he created beautiful, sensitive characters and brought the scenery very much alive.
I enjoyed it very much and got involved with each of the characters - but unfortunately, Manon grated with me as my view is she was a selfish, self-centred person and so I struggled embracing the emotions the author wanted her readers to do.
I'm reviewing this to balance some of the other reviews I read before purchasing. Firstly, I found the narration to be excellent - bringing character to each of the individuals in the book, bringing to life all the beautiful scenery and not in any way monotonous. I also didn't find anything predictable about the story (in fact, the old cliche twist that I was dreading didn't happen and I was very glad about that). The comments about this being written by a woman with men appearing as a woman would idealise them to be, I also couldn't associate with - firstly, it should be remembered these are Frenchmen not Englishmen! :o) I think anyone who would enjoy hearing about a small Parisian community, a narrow boat book store moored on the Seine and a group of people who then travel through the French canals and river systems would enjoy this book. I wished I'd travelled more in France to be able to picture their journey - I could certainly picture exactly where I would moor the barge on the Seine in Paris! It also left m feeling I would love to travel France's canals. So why only four stars? Just because Manon - one of the main characters - grated with me. I have thought about was that due to poor characterisation and I don't feel it is - she is probably more human than other characters in other books where romance is involved. But it grated someone so selfish and manipulative in my opinion, became this venerated character. Maybe, therefore, why it should be five stars ...because the character is flawed and human, and therefore the story very well written ;o)
"Self indulgent and boring"
No. Firstly, this story is about a man in his 50s but there are several aspects to this story that make it very, very clear that this book is written by a woman for female readers. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, I'm simply saying that there were certain elements, for instance the ways Perdu identifys women's desires, pains, relationships with other men, that seemed far-fetched and rendered his character unrealistic. It felt to me like the kind of things women can see clearly in other women, but the kind of things that men rarely notice or understand.
Secondly, I would agree with others who have accused this book of being highly self-indulgent. I stopped listening very near the end in the final parts of Manan's travel journals, a deeply emotional scene is portrayed in such a contrived way that I simply couldn't stomach so I stopped listening.
I did enjoy the description of Perdu's journey South to Provence and I would praise the writer for some lovely words decribing french food, landscapes and the local community.
No idea. Desperate for something with a good plot.
Well suited to the main character.
This was a charming story that made me feel like I had gone back 50 years until the word "text" appeared which made me realise it was present day.
This book was a recommendation from my book club and was very different from my normal style of fast adventure and murder mystery. So this was a real change, but a thoroughly enjoyable change.
The story had some twists and turns but was fairly predictable but again in this genre I felt that was the right thing to do. The descriptions took me to the various places and the characters were well formed.
The main thing it did for me was to make me want to escape, get a barge and float off down the Seine!
"Not found a book like this since Eat Pray Love"
As an editor and publisher I read, read, read and not often do I come across books I shout about from the rooftop. I absolutely loved this book and have already bought it for several friends as gifts. It is one of those rare gems that has you wanting to write lines down and keep them to reflect upon; the characters were marvellous and the story enchanting. I only wish I hadn't read it so I could enjoy it for the first time allover again. Thank you Nina George!
"Lovely gentle book which takes you to Paris and beyond"
I enjoyed the book and its quirky nature and characters. Beautiful descriptions of scenery and France. Lovely charachters who you really got to know. Not contrived, but I did guess the ending and found the story did slow down somewhat towards the end. All in all, a great read.
"started well but ended up extremely self indulgent"
really struggled to finish this one. very sentimental after a really good start. I found myself groaning a lot. and not in a good way.
I really loved this book- very thought provoking! Beautifully descriptive- I feel as if I have been to all the places in the book!
completely different story but the other book I loved this year was the illegal gardener by Sara alexi. Again beautifully written- made me question a lot and so descriptive I felt I was there!!
yes- most definitely!
"Wonderful painfully intense emotion"
I loved this though at times it was almost too intensely emotional. Great performance of a wonderful complex and yet simple story of grief and finding oneself
it is not often that a female author pens a. male protagonist with such finesse. I was enchanted by the narrative.
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