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 Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest places.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Janet Skeslien Charles’ exhilarating historical novel—about a librarian in Nazi-occupied Paris—is inspired by real events. It’s set in the French capital’s American Library, a humble institution that came to play a pivotal role in World War II and is basically a dream workplace for Dewey decimal enthusiast Odile Souchet. But as the occupying German forces begin to ban books, spy on borrowers, and bar Jewish people from entry, the modest librarian and her colleagues put their lives on the line in the name of knowledge, literature, and freedom. Charles’ eye for detail draws us deep into Odile’s world, filling us with the same righteous anger that pushes her to join the Resistance. It’s not every day we get to see librarians cast as war heroes. The Paris Library will make the book lover in you swell with pride.
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 fianc , 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.
Good book, but left loose ends
I really enjoyed the history and characters in this book and was absorbed by them. WWII history is one of my favorite time periods to read about. My only reason for holding back a star was the fact there were several loose ends that didn’t get resolved. (Spoiler alert) like what happened to the story line with Paul after Odile leaves? That made no sense to me to have no follow up. And no resolution with her best friend? Also, what was the point of the love interest for Lily if that doesn’t get explored? I was definitely invested in the story and characters so much, that these unresolved issues has left me irritated. So maybe the author accomplished what she set out to do and has kept me engaged after finishing the book. ☺️
The Paris Library
I found this a little tedious, but loved how she tied the stories together at the end. Worth a read if you like books and history.
I loved this book and couldn’t put it down. I love historical fiction and this book was well done. Skipping between two very separate worlds and then bringing them together so effortlessly was inspiring.