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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for The Paris Library

  1. 4 out of 5

    MarilynW

    The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles This was such an enjoyable story and led me to research more about the American Library in Paris. The story starts in 1939 Paris, as we follow twenty year old librarian Odile Souchet. Odile's father is a police chief and when the Nazis arrive in Paris, he is tasked with following through on all the letters identifying the persecuted people of the time. Odile's brother has joined the war, despite being so very unsuited for physical activity, while Odile' The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles This was such an enjoyable story and led me to research more about the American Library in Paris. The story starts in 1939 Paris, as we follow twenty year old librarian Odile Souchet. Odile's father is a police chief and when the Nazis arrive in Paris, he is tasked with following through on all the letters identifying the persecuted people of the time. Odile's brother has joined the war, despite being so very unsuited for physical activity, while Odile's police officer boyfriend gripes about having to do chores for the Nazis. As hard as things are for Odile and her family, they are so much better off than most of the people in the area.  The American Library of Paris is under attack also. Library subscribers are banned from the library due to their heritage or because they are deemed enemy aliens. Most of these people are carted off to detention camps or worse. Long lists of books are banned or confiscated. The library is under surveillance by spies and it's people are reported anonymously to the police or Nazis. For the next years of the war, Odile, her coworkers, and volunteers work to save the books and to carry books to those who are banned from entering the library.  In 1983 Montana, we meet Odile again, widowed, alone, isolated from others except for her attendance at church. Teenage Lily lives next door to Odile and she is going through a horror of her own, as her mother is dying and later as her father remarries. Odile and Lily strike up a wonderful friendship as Odile teaches Lily French and they become true friends, despite their age difference. But Lily wants to know more about Odile's past, why she didn't marry her policeman boyfriend, why she seems so closed off from the people of her past, what she is not telling Lily, as she relates her stories of the war.  These two timelines interweave with each other and I enjoyed both timelines equally. I think it is Odile that allows me to enjoy both so much because we still see the younger Odile behind her older self, holding on to fears and great regrets that have a chokehold on her life in the present. Odile wants to teach Lily not to make the same mistakes she did but until both Odile and Lily see the past more clearly, mistakes will continue to be made.  I loved learning about the American Library in Paris, through this story. This is true historical fiction with most of the library workers and patrons being real life people, who risked their lives to help each other and to save the library and books as best that they could. They were the library Resistance fighters of their day and the ugliness of that time is evident throughout the book.  Publication: February 9, 2021 Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for this ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    ***HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY*** Historical fiction is my favorite genre. I search out novels that are set about, in or around books, libraries, book stores etc. The novel is set during dual timelines, one in the past in 1939 through 1944 and the other in the more current time of 1983-1989. The first timeline is set in Paris around 1939,as we follow Odelie through the years. She first starting work at the American Library in Paris and then continued through the years of Nazi occupation in Paris. This ***HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY*** Historical fiction is my favorite genre. I search out novels that are set about, in or around books, libraries, book stores etc. The novel is set during dual timelines, one in the past in 1939 through 1944 and the other in the more current time of 1983-1989. The first timeline is set in Paris around 1939,as we follow Odelie through the years. She first starting work at the American Library in Paris and then continued through the years of Nazi occupation in Paris. This was definitely the most interesting part of the novel, learning how the librarians continued to support their Jewish subscribers by delivering books to them since they could no longer use the library. They also sent boxes with books to soldiers that they could reach who were entrenched in the war effort. I didn’t feel the need for the romance between Odelie and Paul and their afternoon trysts in abandoned apartments i.e. “Paul kissed my hands, my cheeks, my lips. I wanted more. His skin on mine, our bodies entwined”, it felt as though I was reading romance. I didn’t think that this really added to the story and just took away from the seriousness of the subject. I would have liked more details about life in Paris under the occupation, not just how it affected the library. The second timeline involves Lily, a high school student who has decided to try to interview their older French neighbor, Odelie, for a school project. Odelie keeps to herself most of the time. When Lily approaches her for an interview she is surprised that Odelie is going to grant her the interview. It seems that Odelie sees a lot of herself in Lily “ the same love of language, the same longings, the same lethal jealousy “. Lily learns a lot about how things were during the war for the Parisians involved with the library, how some were forced to leave after the occupation and how they continued to serve their subscribers. At one point however Lily and her best friend invade Odelie’s privacy and find letters that they don’t understand the meaning of. They are interrupted in their rummaging by Odelie who had returned to her home and discovered the girls there. Everything changes after that. I really enjoyed the author’s notes and learned that many of the characters in the story were real people and the events actually occurred. The author worked as the programs manager at the American Library in Paris in 2019. She was told the story of what occurred during the occupation and spoke to members of the families of some of the characters. It is obvious that much research was done in writing this book. I did feel that at times the novel moved slowly and I think it would have been a stronger book without the second story line involving Lily. I found myself rushing through those chapters to get back to what I considered the “main story” presented in this novel. Overall I still really enjoyed this novel and can recommend it to lovers of historical fiction. I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher. New release date 2/2/2021

  3. 4 out of 5

    Angela M

    I thought this would be a relevant one to read during Banned Book Week, and it was, but it’s about more than banned books. It’s about people affected by the Nazi occupation of France, how the Librarians and other staff at the American Library of Paris tried to save some of their patrons as well as preserve their right to read by delivering books to their Jewish subscribers who were no longer allowed by the Nazis to use the library. I was compelled to read some about the history of ALP and discov I thought this would be a relevant one to read during Banned Book Week, and it was, but it’s about more than banned books. It’s about people affected by the Nazi occupation of France, how the Librarians and other staff at the American Library of Paris tried to save some of their patrons as well as preserve their right to read by delivering books to their Jewish subscribers who were no longer allowed by the Nazis to use the library. I was compelled to read some about the history of ALP and discovered in those articles as well as in the author’s note that some of the characters in this novel are based on real people. In the novel, Dorothy Reeder (a wonderful sounding name for a Librarian) who is the director of the Library was the director of the actual ALP from 1936-1941. I was so impressed how accurate this novel reflected the history. A program to send books to soldiers was also implemented. It’s also about the power of friendship. I’m drawn to stories about WWII and the Holocaust and as a retired Librarian, this was a perfect read for me. The novel is written with a commonly used mechanism telling the story in two time frames, linking the past with a present or near present time. Odile in the current time frame of the early 1980’s is the recluse neighbor of a young girl, Lily, in Froid, Montana. It’s a lovely story of how these two become unlikely friends when Odile helps Lily get through a tough time of loss and change in her life, with heart, wisdom, love of reading and teaching her to speak French. The alternating past story covers Odile’s life and work as a Librarian at the ALP. It is in these past chapters that the reader is introduced to the wonderful place that the Library was, the Nazi occupation, the courageous and commendable work of these Librarians. It’s also Odile’s personal story of love and loss. While we don’t necessarily see the horrors of the death camps front and center on the pages, there is loss and death close to these characters. While I enjoyed the past time frame of the story a bit more, with some wonderful characters both real and imagined, there is a lovely connection between these two characters in the current story and we never know until the end just how much this friendship meant to both of them. Some may think that the loss of books or the loss of one’s ability to access books is not comparable to the loss of six million Jews in the Holocaust and of course it isn’t, but it’s stealing a part of who people are, their society and culture. Something that the real Dorothy Reeder says made me realize how important their work was. In May 1940, just weeks before the fall of France, Reeder reflected: “More and more I realize my responsibility to guard our library. It stands as a symbol of freedom and understanding, of service to all, a fine piece of democracy.” (We’ll Always Have the American Library in Paris” By Leonard Kniffel | American Libraries Magazine, May 1, 2020 “After the darkness of war, the light of books.” (ALP’s motto) ARC was provided by Atria Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Janet Skeslien Charles writes an intriguing blend of well researched fact and fiction focusing on the experience of the established American Library in Paris amidst the background of the Nazi occupation during WW2. It follows the experiences of the young, ambitious librarian, Odile Souchet, with the library supporting its subscribers, including Jews, and soldiers. The Library is not left untouched by the occupation, a target for the Nazis. The story covers Odile's wartime experiences, such as th Janet Skeslien Charles writes an intriguing blend of well researched fact and fiction focusing on the experience of the established American Library in Paris amidst the background of the Nazi occupation during WW2. It follows the experiences of the young, ambitious librarian, Odile Souchet, with the library supporting its subscribers, including Jews, and soldiers. The Library is not left untouched by the occupation, a target for the Nazis. The story covers Odile's wartime experiences, such as those with her family, she is close to her brother, Remy, who has joined the war efforts, her worries for him, hoping that he will return safe and sound. There are the many wide ranging and disparate subscribers, the staff and volunteers, the joys of seeing the right book find the right reader at the right time. Odile has a romantic relationship with Paul, a policeman, as she finds herself willing to do whatever it takes to save the library, joining the Resistance in its myriad forms. Never was the power of books and reading so desperately needed, in the bleakest, dangerous, hardest and darkest of times, and all the horrors that it entailed. We follow what happens with Odile, her colleagues and friends, trying to save lives and the library, the below the radar deliveries to Jews, going expressly against Nazi orders. There are challenges, obstacles, deception and the shock of betrayal. In 1983 in Montana, teenage high school student, Lily, has recently suffered the loss of her mother, whilst her father has remarried. Griefsticken, lonely and struggling to fit in, Lily becomes close to her elderly French neighbour, Odile, and interviews for a school project. Odile sees that she has much in common with Lily, their relationship culminating in the surprising revelation of a past secret that connects them. This is a fascinating and illuminating glimpse of WW2 history and the terrifying nightmare devastation of the war, viewed through the unusual perspective and role of the American Library in Paris. It was wonderful to read of the courageous librarians, fighting the good fight through books, knowingly resisting the Nazis, aware they faced death and prison if discovered. This is a brilliant read, of loss, betrayal, hope and the power of friendship. Many thanks to John Murray Press for an ARC.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Swaroop

    "based on a true Second World War story of the heroic librarians..." Set in two different time periods, The Paris Library is a well-written and engaging read. The book follows the experiences of Odile, a librarian and Lily, a high school student. To start with much of the book is about the importance of books, the power of literature, the value of libraries and, above-all, the wonderful profession of being a Librarian. This itself is a good enough reason for all book lovers to read this book. Th "based on a true Second World War story of the heroic librarians..." Set in two different time periods, The Paris Library is a well-written and engaging read. The book follows the experiences of Odile, a librarian and Lily, a high school student. To start with much of the book is about the importance of books, the power of literature, the value of libraries and, above-all, the wonderful profession of being a Librarian. This itself is a good enough reason for all book lovers to read this book. The American Library in Paris (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America...). The content and thoughts about books, libraries and librarians is very much as I feel and think about them: <“ONE-two-three. BOOKS-independence-happiness.” "Breathing in the best smell in the world - a melange of the mossy scent of musty books and crisp newspaper pages - I felt as if I'd come home." “I loved being surrounded by stories, some as old as time, others published just last month.” “I never judged a book by its beginning. It felt like the first and last date I`d once had, both of us smiling too brightly. No, I opened to a page in the middle, where the author wasn`t trying to impress me.” “It was why I read – to glimpse other lives.” “But seriously, why books. Because no other thing possesses that mystical faculty to make people see with other people`s eyes. The Library is a bridge of books between cultures.” “Libraries are lungs. Books the fresh air breathed in to keep the heart beating, to keep the brain imagining, to keep hope alive.” “Books and ideas are like blood; they need to circulate, and they keep us alive.” “A better question to ask is what can we do now to ensure that libraries and learning are accessible to all and that we treat people with dignity and compassion.” > Now, for some people, in order to make the book `interesting` maybe it is required to include some drama, romance, et cetera. Also, maybe, these are needed for a book to be commercially successful. But, for me, the content and elements about the books, libraries and librarians were more than enough! Everything else, kind of, felt unneeded, out of the context and like loose ends. The characters in this book: “Her hand hugging me, she introduced her cast of characters. Dear Maman and down-to-earth Eugenie. Blustery Papa. Remy, the mischievous twin I would see every time I looked at Odile. His girl, Bitsi, the brave librarian. Paul, so handsome, I fell in love with him, too. Margaret, every bit as fun as Mary Louise. Miss Reader, the Countess, and Boris, the heart and soul and life of the Library. People I would never know, would never forget. They`d lived in Odile`s memory, and now they lived in mine.” - Lily, Froid Montana 1983 Few interesting quotes from The Paris Library: *** Life`s a brawl. You must fight for what you want. It was important for her to leave a place better than we found it. People are awkward, they don`t always know what to do or say. Don`t hold it against them. You never know what`s in their hearts. Soup teaches patience. It takes just a few ingredients to make a healthy meal, yet industrial food companies have Americans convinced there`s no time to cook. You eat bland soup from a can, even though leeks browned with butter taste like heaven. She knew that God tore down the old world every evening and built a new one by sun up. You`re nothing without principles. Nowhere without ideals. No one without courage. Love is accepting someone, all parts of them, even the ones you don`t like or understand. But… you always know the right things to say. Because I`ve said so many wrong things. Don`t listen when someone tells you not to bother a person – reach out to make a friend. People don`t know what to do or say. Try not to hold that against them; you never know what`s in their heart. Don`t be afraid to be different. Stand your ground. During bad times, remember that nothing lasts forever. Accept people for who they are, not for who you want them to be. Try to put yourself in their shoes. ***"Atrum post bellum, ex libris lux. After the darkness of war, the light of books."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Though I am starting to back off on historical novels set during WWII, I picked this book as it appeared to offer something different. The story has dual timelines with our protagonist, Odile, heavily featured in both. During WWII, Odile works at the American Library in Paris (a real institution). The later timeline takes place in the mid to late 1980s in Montana. I enjoyed both timelines equally. The best feature of the WWII period is the library setting. I love the references to the Dewey deci Though I am starting to back off on historical novels set during WWII, I picked this book as it appeared to offer something different. The story has dual timelines with our protagonist, Odile, heavily featured in both. During WWII, Odile works at the American Library in Paris (a real institution). The later timeline takes place in the mid to late 1980s in Montana. I enjoyed both timelines equally. The best feature of the WWII period is the library setting. I love the references to the Dewey decimal system and to specific books. Seeing the war from the perspective of the library and its patrons and employees is also fresh and enlightening. The Montana period is special because of the inclusion of young Lily and her role in helping Odile heal from her difficult life. In turn, Odile supports Lily as the latter struggles “to belong.” The story focuses more on the characters than the war (OK with me) and showcases themes of deep disappointment, loss, hope, healing, and the power of friendship. The author did a great deal of research for the book; make sure you read the author’s note at the end. One of the things I look most forward to in the WWII historical fiction novels is the Author’s Note. My only knock is that the end was rushed in my opinion. I would have liked “another 10%” to be devoted to Odile’s relationship with Buck and Marc and a bit more detail on Lily’s future. Back to the Author’s Note—it did serve as a great epilogue for some of the characters who we find out were actually real people. All in all, I very much enjoyed this novel and recommend it to all fans of historical fiction, especially those who like character-driven novels. Many thanks to Atria Books, through Net Galley and Janet Skeslien Charles, for the invitation to read an ARC of this novel. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    I loved Paris, a city with secrets. Like book covers, some leather, some cloth, each Parisian door led to an unexpected world. We follow Odile Souchet as she applies to be a librarian in an English-speaking library in Paris, 1939. She quickly falls in love with a police officer beau, finds a new friend among the library's patrons and thrives on the challenge, and is finding her purpose by serving the community. But then, the unthinkable happens. War is declared. And then it comes to her I loved Paris, a city with secrets. Like book covers, some leather, some cloth, each Parisian door led to an unexpected world. We follow Odile Souchet as she applies to be a librarian in an English-speaking library in Paris, 1939. She quickly falls in love with a police officer beau, finds a new friend among the library's patrons and thrives on the challenge, and is finding her purpose by serving the community. But then, the unthinkable happens. War is declared. And then it comes to her library. Odile wants nothing more to continue working with the patrons, finding them books and living peacefully but as the Nazi regulations are put into place, she finds it more and more difficult to stay out of the situation. And we also follow Odile in 1983 as she lives in a small town in Montana - widowed and isolated. The small town sees Odile as an outsider and she truly feels the isolation. But then, the little neighbor girl knocks on her door. Lily, a lonely girl, is trying to escape from her own situation. Dad and I hovered at the side of Mom's hospital bed. She tried to smile but her lips just quivered. The two lost souls find solace in each other, and soon a grandmother-granddaughter relationship begins to form. I was skeptical about soulmates, but could believe in bookmates, two beings bound by a passion for reading. I'm surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I'm not normally one for war books and war books riddled with flashbacks and flashforwards. The two stories felt fairly balanced. I was a little more drawn to the "modern" day one (with Lily in it) but overall, it worked pretty well. I loved the aspect of the library and how Odile's world was so carefully built (only for it to come crashing down). The pacing of the book felt a bit slow...and yet it was the kind of slow that I enjoyed. I loved the details, the attention to various aspects of the 1900s and the whole immersion experience. All in all, I was really entranced by this book and the ending was the crescendo that I was waiting for. A huge thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and Janet Skeslien Charles for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review. YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads

  8. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    4.5 shining stars rounded down for a story of love, betrayal, sadness, courage and coming of age, all wrapped up in one book. This book is based on actual events in Paris during WWII. The American Library in Paris remained open during the German occupation. Heroic librarians did deliver books to Jewish subscribers as depicted in the book. The book opens with Odile Souchet applying for a job at the American Library in Paris. It is February, 1939. She is hired for the job of her dreams. She loves b 4.5 shining stars rounded down for a story of love, betrayal, sadness, courage and coming of age, all wrapped up in one book. This book is based on actual events in Paris during WWII. The American Library in Paris remained open during the German occupation. Heroic librarians did deliver books to Jewish subscribers as depicted in the book. The book opens with Odile Souchet applying for a job at the American Library in Paris. It is February, 1939. She is hired for the job of her dreams. She loves books and has memorized the Dewey Decimal system. Odile's father is a Paris Police supervisor and brings to Sunday dinners a procession of prospective suitors, until Paul, who wins her heart. But then war comes and Odile's brother Remy joins the army. The book is told in two time frames: Paris, from 1939-1944 and Froid, Montana, US, from 1983 to 1984. In 1983 Odile is now the widow of Buck Gustafson, a American soldier that she met in Paris. Young Lily is a lonely teenager looking for something beyond the boredom of living in a remote small town in Montana. She decides to interview Mrs. Gustafson for a school report. This begins a friendship that teaches Lily the French language and so much more about life, love and friendship. My wife read this book before me also thoroughly enjoyed it. Odile's father: "Like the turkey Maman trussed and sprinkled with parsley, Papa presented each one on a platter: 'Marc has never missed a day of work, not even when he had the flu." Odile on love; "I had learned that love was not patient, love was not kind. Love was conditional. The people closest to you could turn their backs on you, saying goodbye for something that seemed like nothing. You could only depend on yourself." Thanks to Atria Books for sending me this eARC through NetGalley.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    I have been disappointed in the historical fiction genre for a time, But this book has ended that disappointment. It was superb in every sense and one in which the author was able to blend fact and fiction flawlessly. Taking us once again to Paris during the war, we meet a cast of characters who knew and espoused the idea that books are the answer to the ills of people who suffer. The American Library of Paris, like so many things was gravely affected during the wars. From books being banned, to I have been disappointed in the historical fiction genre for a time, But this book has ended that disappointment. It was superb in every sense and one in which the author was able to blend fact and fiction flawlessly. Taking us once again to Paris during the war, we meet a cast of characters who knew and espoused the idea that books are the answer to the ills of people who suffer. The American Library of Paris, like so many things was gravely affected during the wars. From books being banned, to people being denied access because of their backgrounds and what they believed, this library was able to survive and bring hope to his patrons. The author reminds us of the way in which fascism worked. How it eliminates those ideas, those concepts, and those books which they feel are a challenge to what fascists espouse. For so many of us, the library has been a place of refuge, a place to escape the ills of the world and escape into a world where peace and words exist side by side. Odile Souchethas found that perfect job, that of a librarian in the American Library of Paris. She and her coworkers are lovers of books, and through them the library and its patrons, including those who were banned, are able to find solace. These people become part of their own Resistance by seeing that books stayed a part of the way forward. Years later, living in America, Odile comes to meet and counsel Lily, a young teenager who is unhappy and feels cut apart from life and love. Through their blossoming friendship, Lily learns of Odile's life, her struggles, and her strength. From Odile, Lily learns the meaning of courage and the ability to realize that everyone carries burdens some of which are harder than others. This marvelous story comes highly recommended for both teaching us a piece of history not well known as well as presenting a story of bravery and the will to carry on even with adversity nipping at one's heels. Thank you to Janet, Skeslien Charles, Atria Books, and NetGalley for this enlightening and poignant story, due out February 2, 2021.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook...library overdrive.. alternated with the physical book... (I own it) I’ve been sitting here debating whether or not to write a review at all. I suppose I’ll start with a personal share. I’m getting pretty close to retiring from writing reviews. I’ll write a review when I accept a book from Netgalley ...(it’s kinda our deal arrangement).... but a decade of writing reviews is about enough for me. My brain is tired. I don’t want to write reviews as often as I did last year. The pattern will Audiobook...library overdrive.. alternated with the physical book... (I own it) I’ve been sitting here debating whether or not to write a review at all. I suppose I’ll start with a personal share. I’m getting pretty close to retiring from writing reviews. I’ll write a review when I accept a book from Netgalley ...(it’s kinda our deal arrangement).... but a decade of writing reviews is about enough for me. My brain is tired. I don’t want to write reviews as often as I did last year. The pattern will continue unless I consciously stop it. I’m a natural chatterbox and love connecting with others authentically in this community. But.... cutting back on writing reviews is simply something I would like to unhook from. As soon as I complete my 2nd vaccine, coming, soon.... with enough allotment safe time having gone by - I want enjoy the company of our close friends, family, and do more traveling. I don’t want to have any read/review agreements hanging over my head for anyone. This past year, the majority of books that excited me ‘most’ often were nonfiction: ( an unforeseen change -surprisingly-even memoirs). I’m a fiction reader at heart... But with the world changing, I’ve become more aware of my responsibility to be pro active in all areas of justice. I naturally have gravitated more to non-fiction. So....about ‘THIS’ book - the beginning of my ‘no reviewing’ review. As a Jewish woman - a fairly committed dedicated Holocaust reader.... I’m tired of World War II books that dramatize romance, family strife— mixed with coming of age characters. I’m tired of moving through the years. I don’t want to be a mean reviewer. It’s not an author’s fault when I’m burned out on Historical fiction that feels like every other book I’ve read. Yes - I learned new history in this book - but nothing was totally unfamiliar. I’m also ‘over’ it with duel timelines. “The Paris Library” ... is many things I’m tired of.... Starting with: “Based on the true WWII story of the heroic librarians of the American library in Paris”.... Most great WWII stories are inspired by truth!!! So in the spirit of NOT REVIEWING reviews... I’ll say a few more things..... Years ago I would’ve absolutely love this book in the same way I did “Sarah’s Key”, by Tatiana de Rodney... I am a book lover and I appreciate rich historical elements.... but maybe not all the time. In the Paris library, [a refugee sanctuary for many]- books, and Jewish people belonged to each other!! So— what’s not to like? Nothing really... but... this was just a ‘so-so’ overall read for me. The impeachment trial keeps pulling my focus. That said.... Our two Librarians - Odile and Lily were a perfect match for each other ... They each fit a need to one another. Both courageous women. We get family background during the war in 1939...(Paris)...and we get a modern story in 1983...(Montana) “The Paris Library” was carefully and respectively research —written well.... There were charming moments. There were unspeakable betrayals. The authors notes were moving. Many readers will love this book. Read other lovely reviews. Today... given my own Meshuggah ways... Its only a 3-star truthful rating.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    This book starts on a light note, a young Parisienne woman gets a job at the American Library in Paris. She quickly befriends a young English woman and finds love with a policeman. But it’s 1939 and war clouds are looming to the east. Charles makes you feel a part of the library, taking me back to the days of the Dewey decimal system, citing lots of classic books. All of us who love books will recognize the comfort a library brings. I loved how Charles uses quotes from classic stories to bring h This book starts on a light note, a young Parisienne woman gets a job at the American Library in Paris. She quickly befriends a young English woman and finds love with a policeman. But it’s 1939 and war clouds are looming to the east. Charles makes you feel a part of the library, taking me back to the days of the Dewey decimal system, citing lots of classic books. All of us who love books will recognize the comfort a library brings. I loved how Charles uses quotes from classic stories to bring home certain points. As seems to be the norm with historical fiction, we have two timelines. The first, during the war and the second in the 1980s, with an older Odile who obviously married an American and moved to Montana. The second section is narrated by Lily, her young neighbor. “In Froid, she stuck out like a sore thumb, but maybe in Paris she was just an ordinary finger.” For me, the mark of great historical fiction is that I learn new things. This book didn’t do that, probably because I’ve read so many WWII stories. But I totally enjoyed the characters and the story of perseverance. It’s an easy read and the story flows quickly. Charles does a good job setting the stage for both periods, and it was easy to imagine the scenes playing out. Yes, the earlier time period is more interesting than the latter, but the latter is necessary to bring home certain resolutions and to impart quite a few life lessons. Many of the characters existed in real life and the author’s note details how much of the book is based on true events. My thanks to netgalley and Atria Books for an advance copy of this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    This story brings “a little-known chapter of WWII history: the story of the American librarian, Miss Reeder, who created the Soldiers’ Service to deliver books to servicemen, and who later faced the Nazi ‘Book Protector’ in order to keep her library open. She and her colleagues defied the Bibliotheksschutz by delivering books to Jewish readers after they were forbidden from entering the library.” Montana, 1983. Lily, a lonely teenager, is working on a school project, a report on France. She goes This story brings “a little-known chapter of WWII history: the story of the American librarian, Miss Reeder, who created the Soldiers’ Service to deliver books to servicemen, and who later faced the Nazi ‘Book Protector’ in order to keep her library open. She and her colleagues defied the Bibliotheksschutz by delivering books to Jewish readers after they were forbidden from entering the library.” Montana, 1983. Lily, a lonely teenager, is working on a school project, a report on France. She goes to her French neighbor Mrs. Gustafson to interview her for the report. Mrs. Gustafson is defined as the epitome of solitude. And what starts as a school project, turns into a heartfelt relationship. As the relationship deepens, Lily starts wondering about certain things about Odile’s life in Paris. Paris, 1939. Odile Gustafson has just started working as a librarian at the American Library. When England and France declare war on Germany, requests for magazines and books from soldiers pour in. The library gets busy with fulfilling those requests. Once, the Nazis occupy Paris, Miss Reeder, the Library Directress, realizes that churches and libraries will not be spared as she previously hoped. Certain people and books are not allowed in the library. Thus, an idea of smuggling books to Jewish subscribers springs up. But there are checkpoints everywhere, thus carrying something suspicious puts one in danger. Then, the crow letters, most unsigned, informing on Jews, keep arriving at the police station. Deceit weaves its way into the story. Loved the portrayal of Odile’s French family. They come through as very human, always criticizing father, depressed mother. The bond she has with her brother is very endearing. Lily is also a very likeable character. Her tone is expressionless most of the time. She is not the most enthusiastic person, which reflects her loneliness. But her journey of discovering herself is engrossing. Usually, I don’t like to read stories through the voice of a teenager, but there is something special about her and the relationship with Odile. When the story was unravelling in Paris for a longer time, I started to miss the present time story. “You came into my life like the evening star.” Typically, I don’t like foreign words being mixed with English. But I actually enjoyed little lessons of French that Lily was getting from Odile. It makes so much more sense as in this case you know what you’re reading. It’s also interesting to learn about Dewey Decimal number system. 813 (American) + 840 (French) + 302.34 (friendship) = 1955.34 (worthy books). This book doesn’t detail the events of WWII. The purpose of this book is to shed light on the Library and its people who risked their lives to lift other people up. I enjoyed the story and writing thoroughly, but if you enjoy more of a descriptive writing, then this book may not be the right fit for you. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carole

    The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles is a memorable account of life during World War II in Paris after the German invasion. In 1939 Odile is thrilled to be hired at the American Library in Paris (ALP). Her love of the written word soon makes her an important and respected member of staff. As the German soldiers take control, the library is in danger of being closed permanently, like so many others. This is the story of how library staff coped with years of foreign dominance while serving The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles is a memorable account of life during World War II in Paris after the German invasion. In 1939 Odile is thrilled to be hired at the American Library in Paris (ALP). Her love of the written word soon makes her an important and respected member of staff. As the German soldiers take control, the library is in danger of being closed permanently, like so many others. This is the story of how library staff coped with years of foreign dominance while serving their subscribers. They were years of hardship, fear, terror, prejudice and survival of the human spirit. But it was also a time of love, friendship and kindness. These are the heroic lives of the librarians during a terrible time. To this day, the American Library in Paris is still thriving, in part due to these courageous people. This is a well-researched and fascinating look at the dedication needed to stand against the Nazis and save an important and beloved library. The author worked at the ALP in 2010, which accounts for the atmospheric retelling. Highly recommended. Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    3.5 stars. All book lovers will have a soft spot for this story. This novel revolves around an entertaining and quirky cast of library loving characters. During WWII, several dedicated employees of the American Library in Paris worked diligently, and often secretly, to deliver books to those who could not make it in to the library. Soldiers stationed at various camps, elderly patrons, forbidden Jewish patrons. The employees made sure these passionate readers didn’t go without their beloved books t 3.5 stars. All book lovers will have a soft spot for this story. This novel revolves around an entertaining and quirky cast of library loving characters. During WWII, several dedicated employees of the American Library in Paris worked diligently, and often secretly, to deliver books to those who could not make it in to the library. Soldiers stationed at various camps, elderly patrons, forbidden Jewish patrons. The employees made sure these passionate readers didn’t go without their beloved books to escape into. Books often brought comfort and a way of escaping the horrific and uncertain times they were facing. I enjoyed learning about this piece of history. These heroic librarians took their jobs to a whole new level. I have much admiration for them as they risked their lives to provide a small piece of comfort to those who needed it. The characters were charming and likeable. There were many touching, heartfelt moments. The setting was exquisite! I loved the library atmosphere - I felt like I was right there, roaming the stacks with the library staff. This is a lighter WWII story that lacked the heaviness and grit of the WWII historical fiction that I usually like to read. I was entertained from start to finish, however, it failed to fully pull me in with a true connection to the characters. There was a distance that kept me from feeling true emotional investment. It was a “feel good” theme of bringing books to those who didn’t have access to them which I loved. Romance is a part of this storyline, but it wasn’t a main focus and didn’t overshadow the larger, more important themes which I appreciated. Overall, this was an easy, entertaining, inspiring and “feel good” WWII story that I recommend to those who enjoy lighter historical fiction novels. Thank you to NetGalley for my review copy!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    This is a historical fiction that takes place during WWII in Paris, France. I have to say my feelings about this book is different from most peoples, but this is how I feel about the book. I really had high hopes for this book, and it let me down. The beginning (or first 40% of the book) was very slow moving and some parts I do not think needed to be in the book. I hated the first part of this book. I think after getting through the first 40% of the book made me just feel the last part of the bo This is a historical fiction that takes place during WWII in Paris, France. I have to say my feelings about this book is different from most peoples, but this is how I feel about the book. I really had high hopes for this book, and it let me down. The beginning (or first 40% of the book) was very slow moving and some parts I do not think needed to be in the book. I hated the first part of this book. I think after getting through the first 40% of the book made me just feel the last part of the book just ok. I have read a lot of historical fiction books that takes place in WWII, and this one was nothing special. I like a historical fiction book to really be hard hitting and touch my heart, and this one did not do that. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (Atria Books) or author (Janet Skeslien Charles) via NetGalley, so I can give honest review about how I feel about this book. I want to send a big Thank you to them for that. (*)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    Thanks to Hachette Australia, NetGalley and Janet Skeslien Charles for my copy of The Paris Library. Paris, 1939: Odile Souchet is a girl obsessed with both the Dewey Decimal System and her boyfriend Paul and has just been employed as a librarian at the American Library in Paris. With the shadow of another war looming, she and her parents are worried about her twin brother Remy and of course he joins the French army. The German army easily overcome the Maginot Line, they march into Paris and the Thanks to Hachette Australia, NetGalley and Janet Skeslien Charles for my copy of The Paris Library. Paris, 1939: Odile Souchet is a girl obsessed with both the Dewey Decimal System and her boyfriend Paul and has just been employed as a librarian at the American Library in Paris. With the shadow of another war looming, she and her parents are worried about her twin brother Remy and of course he joins the French army. The German army easily overcome the Maginot Line, they march into Paris and the Parisians are now living in a city with new rules and regulations. Guided by the directress Miss Reader, the library has already started to hide many of the thousands of precious books and the librarians deliver books to Jewish people who can no longer use the library and soldiers convalescing in hospital. When the war finally ends instead of celebrating Odile is devastated she has been betrayed by the person she thought she could trust and loved. Montana, 1983: Lily Froid is a lonely teenager; she is doing a school project and decides to ask her elderly neighbor Odile some questions. Odile is a widow; they refer to her in town as the war bride, she arrived in 1945 married to Buck Gustafson and no one knows anything about her life before moving to Montana? When Lily’s mother Brenda becomes ill, Odile supports her and after her mum passes away she’s someone who she can talk to and confined in. One day Lily crosses the line by snooping into Mrs. Gustafson past and she does uncover things about her neighbor’s life in Paris during WW II and has her invading her friend’s privacy ended their friendship? The story focuses on the complex relationships between the main characters in the book, too many to mention, it has a dual timeline and I had no trouble following it. The Paris Library is an unforgettable story about choices, friendship, loyalty, family, deceit, loss, betrayal and books. Heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places and that’s the library. All thoughts expressed in this review are my own and I gave The Paris Library five stars. I have shared my review on Goodreads, NetGalley, Twitter, Australian Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and my blog. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/

  17. 4 out of 5

    Virginie

    I feel so bad... Despite the great premise, I just can't get into the story! DNF at 25%. I really don't want to discourage anyone to read it. Odile, the main character, is a book lover and it was very interesting to read about the Dewey system. The storyline in the present seems to have broken the magic of the wonderful first chapter... Thanks so much to the author, Netgalley and Atria books for the ARC. Publication date : 09 Feb 2021 I feel so bad... Despite the great premise, I just can't get into the story! DNF at 25%. I really don't want to discourage anyone to read it. Odile, the main character, is a book lover and it was very interesting to read about the Dewey system. The storyline in the present seems to have broken the magic of the wonderful first chapter... Thanks so much to the author, Netgalley and Atria books for the ARC. Publication date : 09 Feb 2021

  18. 5 out of 5

    DeAnn

    4.25 Ordeal Stars (an inside joke with the book, certainly not an ordeal to read!) I really enjoyed this one with dual storylines and timeframes. It was great to learn about the American Library in Paris and what happened there before and during WWII. The WWII storyline focuses on Odile, her family, and how she sets out to get a job at the American Library. It was fascinating to discover that many of the other librarians were based on real people, that always makes the read more interesting to me 4.25 Ordeal Stars (an inside joke with the book, certainly not an ordeal to read!) I really enjoyed this one with dual storylines and timeframes. It was great to learn about the American Library in Paris and what happened there before and during WWII. The WWII storyline focuses on Odile, her family, and how she sets out to get a job at the American Library. It was fascinating to discover that many of the other librarians were based on real people, that always makes the read more interesting to me! As the war progresses and the Germans occupy Paris, the library and all it represents is threatened. The Germans start to dictate books that can’t circulate and “certain types” of people that can no longer enter the library. The librarians engage in some resistance of their own and I couldn’t help but cheer them on! The other storyline and timeline are set about 40 years later in a small town in Montana. Odile lives by herself and is very isolated. She is befriended by a lonely teenage neighbor Lily and the two start to build a wonderful friendship. Odile teaches her French and tries to impart some wisdom. Lily is struggling with a lot in her life and I enjoyed the interactions between these two. The book slowly tells the story of Odile’s life in Paris and explains how she ends up in small town Montana. I thought this one had great characters and I was a bit sad to finish and say goodbye to these characters. This is my first book by this author, but I will look for others by her. This made for a good buddy read with Marilyn. Thank you to Atria and NetGalley for the copy of this one to read and review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tea Jovanović

    The reading completed, 4 blissful days of pure enjoyment... Good story, from start to finish, serious story lined with fine humour... My favourite city in the world, Paris, American Library, WWII, Jews, friendships, hardships, strong emotions, and many life situations that can't be watched as black or white... there is also a bit of grey... Only the true book lovers can understand passion for books and risks to save them... Two parallel stories, the one in Paris during WWII and another 40 years The reading completed, 4 blissful days of pure enjoyment... Good story, from start to finish, serious story lined with fine humour... My favourite city in the world, Paris, American Library, WWII, Jews, friendships, hardships, strong emotions, and many life situations that can't be watched as black or white... there is also a bit of grey... Only the true book lovers can understand passion for books and risks to save them... Two parallel stories, the one in Paris during WWII and another 40 years later in Montana are well led... With all the teenage ailings well-crafted :) If you liked “Sarah's Key” by Tatiana de Rosney you will love this book too... #mustread

  20. 5 out of 5

    Britany

    3.5 Stars Alternating storylines between WWII Paris and 1980s Montana. Odile desires to get a job at the American Library in Paris just as the war is beginning. The cast of characters (mostly real people) and the activities and bookish references was just what I needed this winter. Lily Jacobsen is growing up in Montana as she comes of age through middle/high school, she becomes deeply interested in her aloof, outcasted French neighbor. I fell hard and fast for this one, the writing and the story 3.5 Stars Alternating storylines between WWII Paris and 1980s Montana. Odile desires to get a job at the American Library in Paris just as the war is beginning. The cast of characters (mostly real people) and the activities and bookish references was just what I needed this winter. Lily Jacobsen is growing up in Montana as she comes of age through middle/high school, she becomes deeply interested in her aloof, outcasted French neighbor. I fell hard and fast for this one, the writing and the story kept me interested, I had to know what happened to these characters. The ending (literally the last 15% of the book) was hugely disappointing and left me falling right in the middle here. I'm not sure if the author just had to end this instead of taking the care of continuing to weave what she had already deftly crafted. The choices these characters made at the end felt wrong and a little too contrived and rushed. I still really enjoyed learning about the American Library and learning a bit of what they endured during WWII. Anyone interested in this timeframe and books in general will really enjoy this one. Thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    A story told in two separate timeframes – 1939 and 1983, and in two very different places – Paris, France and Froid, Montana, from the perspectives of two different women – Odile Souchet whose story spans the two timeframes, and her young neighbor Lily, who is at the age where bodies are beginning to change and the interest in boys and girls are front and center of many of her classmates. While her friends are busy with boys, Lily feels excluded and befriends her neighbor, eventually taking Fren A story told in two separate timeframes – 1939 and 1983, and in two very different places – Paris, France and Froid, Montana, from the perspectives of two different women – Odile Souchet whose story spans the two timeframes, and her young neighbor Lily, who is at the age where bodies are beginning to change and the interest in boys and girls are front and center of many of her classmates. While her friends are busy with boys, Lily feels excluded and befriends her neighbor, eventually taking French lessons from her. When Lily’s mother dies, and her father remarries quickly, Lily takes refuge in the acceptance she finds in Odile, and treasures the moments she spends with Odile learning to speak French. In 1939 Paris, Odile’s life is very different, her father is the police chief, and they live a comfortable life, money isn’t prominently displayed, but it isn’t a worry, either. Her father brings home several men for family dinners over time, hoping to find her a suitable husband who will be able to provide for her as he has. Odile, on the other hand, wants more than anything to work at the American Paris Library, applies for a job there, and is soon after hired. It isn’t long before Odile’s brother Remy enlists, the German Occupation of Paris begins, and the atmosphere of Paris and the library changes. Tensions build, and restrictions are put in place by the Germans, but Odile and the other librarians have already set in motion measures to protect some of the more treasured books. When Jews are no longer allowed to check books out from the library, Odile and friends, at great risk to themselves, bring the books to them. Meanwhile, Odile’s father has managed to bring home another potential suitor, and this time something clicks. I loved the occasional quotes from classics inserted throughout, as one would float through Odile’s thoughts periodically. I loved the relationship between Odile and Lily, their relationship reminded me so much of my relationship with my godmother, who lived next door and was really more like a mother to me. I loved how the author portrayed these librarians, basing this story on the real librarians who lived through these years, and actually did defy the Nazis by making sure all had access to literature through their underground book-lending service. Some of the Parisians were happy to be rid of those deemed ‘undesirables’ by the Nazis, which seems relevant these days, but the main focus of this story was on the library, the books, the beauty of literature, and the hope it offers even in dark times. Published: 09 Feb 2021 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Atria Books via NetGalley

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    I listened to the audiobook of The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles on Overdrive. It was read by Nicky Diss, Sarah Feathers and Esther Wane. The Paris Library was a compelling read that told the history of the library during the Nazi occupation of Paris. Janet Skeslien Charles based her novel on real events that actually occurred during this time period. Many of the characters in her novel actually existed while others were fictional. I had not been aware of all the brave men and women th I listened to the audiobook of The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles on Overdrive. It was read by Nicky Diss, Sarah Feathers and Esther Wane. The Paris Library was a compelling read that told the history of the library during the Nazi occupation of Paris. Janet Skeslien Charles based her novel on real events that actually occurred during this time period. Many of the characters in her novel actually existed while others were fictional. I had not been aware of all the brave men and women that had courageously worked to keep the library open during those most difficult and dangerous times. These same employees also risked their lives to deliver books to Jewish patrons who had been banned from the library. They actually went to their homes to secretly deliver books to them. In addition, injured soldiers became the recipients of much appreciated books that proved to boost their moral through the Soldier’s Service. The library boasted many rooms and prided itself in using all its available space. Although it was not directly stated, there were inferences that suggested the library hid some banned patrons in its locked rooms. It was uplifting to discover the role the library played during World War II. The Paris Library was told in alternating time lines. Odile Souchet’s career as a librarian for The American Library in Paris began in 1939. The role she played during the Nazi invasion of Paris was one of tireless devotion and courage. Then in 1983, Odile found herself living in Montana. Odile became a role model, savior and mentor to her young neighbor, Lily. As the story alternated between the two time periods more of Odile’s story was revealed. Lily and Odile found a special friendship they shared with each other. They came to rely on each other in ways that were not expected. The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles was about a love for books, fear, regret, hope and sadness. It was about love and friendships. It was a very well researched book that taught me about a new aspect of World War II that I had not been aware of before reading this book. Odile’s character was strong and very likable. There were some very sad and frightening parts in this book as well as uplifting and happy ones. I would recommend this book highly.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    What a beautifully written story! I devoured The Paris Library in just two sittings. I loved the story of Odile and everything that came with it. I had a soft spot for Paul as that's also my husband's name. I also really enjoyed the relationship between Odile and her twin brother, Remy. A truly strong set of characters inside these pages.... my only complaint, I still wanted more! I felt such a connection to the characters and was sad when the story ended. We're all readers here ... who doesn't What a beautifully written story! I devoured The Paris Library in just two sittings. I loved the story of Odile and everything that came with it. I had a soft spot for Paul as that's also my husband's name. I also really enjoyed the relationship between Odile and her twin brother, Remy. A truly strong set of characters inside these pages.... my only complaint, I still wanted more! I felt such a connection to the characters and was sad when the story ended. We're all readers here ... who doesn't love a story about a group of librarians who join the resistance and work together to save a library during the War? Based on real events this is a must read for any Historical Fiction lover! The story alternates between the years 1939 - Odile in Paris and 1983 - Lily in Montana. The relationship that forms between these two women is a truly fascinating one. Huge thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for my review copy!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bkwmlee

    This felt like such a perfect read! As a book lover, I’m of course drawn to stories about libraries and book stores, but the added bonus with this story is that it also covers one of my favorite genres: historical fiction. Based on real life people and events, this dual timeline narrative tells the story of the American Library in Paris and the efforts of its staff to keep the library open during the German occupation of France in World War II. The main narrative in the past is told from the per This felt like such a perfect read! As a book lover, I’m of course drawn to stories about libraries and book stores, but the added bonus with this story is that it also covers one of my favorite genres: historical fiction. Based on real life people and events, this dual timeline narrative tells the story of the American Library in Paris and the efforts of its staff to keep the library open during the German occupation of France in World War II. The main narrative in the past is told from the perspective of Odile Souchet, the 20-year-old daughter of a police commissioner who gets her dream job working at the Library — she quickly grows close to the staff she meets at the library and together, they join the effort to fight the Nazis the best way they know how: through the power of literature. In a second timeline interspersed throughout the story, teenager Lily lives in a small town in Montana in the 1980s — lonely and bored, Lily’s curiosity is piqued by the elderly woman living next door to her, a widow named Odile Gustafson who mostly keeps to herself, yet has a sophisticated nature about her that stands out in such a small town. Discovering that they share a lot in common, Lily and Odile strike up a friendship that grows into a special bond as Lily learns more and more about Odile’s past and the circumstances that caused her to leave France. When I first picked this book up, knowing that it would be historical fiction set during WWII, I admit that I was expecting a very different type of story. Given the subject matter, I thought the story would be bleak and depressing, but while there was certainly sadness, the overall tone was hopeful and uplifting. Having said that, I definitely preferred the past narrative to the present one, as I loved reading about the library and what went on, plus the characters were wonderfully drawn (it was fascinating to read the Author’s Note at the end and find out which characters were actually real people). With the present narrative, the aspect I appreciated most was the special friendship between Odile and Lily, the connection they had, and how we find out towards the end the significance of the two of them entering each other’s lives at the times they did. This is a book that I would definitely recommend, as it is absorbing, engaging, and absolutely atmospheric — a lovely story from an angle that doesn’t get covered much in the canon of WWII fiction. I appreciate how the author didn’t gloss over the serious stuff — the grueling history of that time period and some of the atrocities that took place — but at the same time, didn’t take a heavy-handed approach either. It’s not often that I feel compelled to do additional research after reading a book, but this one definitely did — I was so fascinated by the story that I wanted to read more about the Library and the real-life people who had made things happen. To me, that’s as sure an indication as any as to how much I liked this book! In addition to looking forward to this author’s next book, I also hope to check out her acclaimed debut at some point! Received ARC from Atria Books via NetGalley

  25. 5 out of 5

    MicheleReader

    In my quest to read WWII-era books with perspectives that I have not read before, I was happy to read The Paris Library. 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 libra In my quest to read WWII-era books with perspectives that I have not read before, I was happy to read The Paris Library. 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 and worthwhile read. Many thanks to Atria Books, NetGalley and the author for an advance copy. Review posted at MicheleReader.com.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bam cooks the books ;-)

    How exciting to find a work of historical fiction set in Paris and dealing with WWII that brings something new to light. The focus of this story is the American Library in Paris and a young woman librarian named Odile who is hired to begin working in Periodicals in February of 1939. The Director of the library is a brilliant American woman named Miss Reeder who says she believes in the power of books and in the library to make knowledge available to all. As war closes in on their city and the Ge How exciting to find a work of historical fiction set in Paris and dealing with WWII that brings something new to light. The focus of this story is the American Library in Paris and a young woman librarian named Odile who is hired to begin working in Periodicals in February of 1939. The Director of the library is a brilliant American woman named Miss Reeder who says she believes in the power of books and in the library to make knowledge available to all. As war closes in on their city and the Germans crack down on what books are permitted and who is allowed to read them, the librarians find ways to get books into the hands of people who so desperately want them: 'Books (are) the fresh air breathed in to keep the heart beating, to keep the brain imagining, to keep hope alive.' In challenging times such as we are currently facing, this resonated with me as so true. 'You're nothing without principles. Nowhere without ideals. No one without courage.' But who can stand in judgment of other people for their mistakes in desperate times? Is there room for forgiveness, compassion, understanding in our hearts? Odile with her youthful lack of life experience, struggles with these concepts. Perhaps most importantly, she may need to forgive herself. But there are actually two stories here--the second set in Montana in the 1980s where a young girl named Lily becomes fascinated with her elderly neighbor, a widow living alone. How did the elegant Frenchwoman end up here? As they become friends, can Odile help Lily avoid making similar mistakes in her life? She often tells her friend to put herself in other's shoes--or as the French say, in their skin. Both stories were quite nice but I felt the second storyline was not really necessary and was rather a distraction from what I was really interested in reading about--that is, what was going on at the library in Paris! I disliked the choices Odile makes and the mess she creates. Did she live up to the ideals she found in her favorite books? Very close to a 5-star read if not for these details. I received an arc of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinions. Many thanks for the opportunity!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Krystal

    The Paris Library might just be my most favorite read of 2020! I devoured this story, I couldn't get enough and it's one of those books that grab you deep inside your soul so hard that you wish the book would never end. These are the books I wish were in a series, I want more! Based on real actual events and people, the author did an amazing job with her research. I fell so far into the story I'm not sure I can pick up another book for a few days. I literally feel like I was taken back in time t The Paris Library might just be my most favorite read of 2020! I devoured this story, I couldn't get enough and it's one of those books that grab you deep inside your soul so hard that you wish the book would never end. These are the books I wish were in a series, I want more! Based on real actual events and people, the author did an amazing job with her research. I fell so far into the story I'm not sure I can pick up another book for a few days. I literally feel like I was taken back in time to the 1940s and the characters were my real life friends. This was a powerful story that will stay with me. Thank you netgally and the publisher for allowing me to fall into an amazing story I won't soon forget. I can't wait to get my hands on a physical copy, as this is one of those books I must have in my collection.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tami

    Set during World War II, this novel takes place at the American Library in Paris and focuses on how the Nazi occupation affected the library and it’s employees and patrons. The story centers around the life of Odile Souchet, who is hired at the library right before the war breaks out in France. Her life is immediately complicated when her twin brother joins the military. As the war progresses, the library makes the necessary changes to stay in compliance with the new regime, sometimes at peril to Set during World War II, this novel takes place at the American Library in Paris and focuses on how the Nazi occupation affected the library and it’s employees and patrons. The story centers around the life of Odile Souchet, who is hired at the library right before the war breaks out in France. Her life is immediately complicated when her twin brother joins the military. As the war progresses, the library makes the necessary changes to stay in compliance with the new regime, sometimes at peril to their own lives. A second timeline takes place in Montana during the 1980’s, when teenage Lily, befriends her elderly neighbor, who just happens to be named Odile. As Lily and Odile grow closer, the two timelines join together to give readers the story of Odile’s life in Paris, why she is reluctant to go back and why she has lost touch with those she cared for deeply during that time of her life. Throughout the story there are many life lessons, as well as an historical account of how life was for the citizens of Paris during the war. Many thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for allowing me to read an advance copy and give my honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    Thanks to Hachette Australia, NetGalley and Janet Skeslien Charles for my copy of The Paris Library. Paris, 1939: Odile Souchet is a girl obsessed with both the Dewey Decimal System and her boyfriend Paul and has just been employed as a librarian at the American Library in Paris. With the shadow of another war looming, she and her parents are worried about her twin brother Remy and of course he joins the French army. The Nazis easily overcome the Maginot Line, they march into Paris and the Parisi Thanks to Hachette Australia, NetGalley and Janet Skeslien Charles for my copy of The Paris Library. Paris, 1939: Odile Souchet is a girl obsessed with both the Dewey Decimal System and her boyfriend Paul and has just been employed as a librarian at the American Library in Paris. With the shadow of another war looming, she and her parents are worried about her twin brother Remy and of course he joins the French army. The Nazis easily overcome the Maginot Line, they march into Paris and the Parisians are now living in a city with new rules and regulations. Guided by the directress Miss Reader, the library has already started to hide many of the thousands of precious books and the librarians deliver books to Jewish people who can no longer use the library and soldiers convalescing in hospital. When the war finally ends instead of celebrating Odile is devastated she has been betrayed by the person she thought she could trust and loved. Montana, 1983: Lily Froid is a lonely teenager; she is doing a school project and decides to ask her elderly neighbor Odile some questions. Odile is a widow; they refer to her in town as the war bride, she arrived in 1945 married to Buck Gustafson and no one knows anything about her life before moving to Montana? When Lily’s mother Brenda becomes ill, Odile is there for her and after her mum passes away she’s someone who she can talk to and confined in. One day Lily crosses the line by snooping into Mrs. Gustafson past and she does uncover things about her neighbor’s life in Paris during WW II and has her invading her friend’s privacy ended their friendship? The story focuses on the complex relationships between the main characters in the book, too many to mention, it has a dual timeline and I had no trouble following it. The Paris Library is an unforgettable story about choices, friendship, loyalty, family, deceit, loss, betrayal and books. Heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places and that’s the library. All thoughts expressed in this review are my own and I gave The Paris Library five stars.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    4 stars You can read all of my reviews at Nerd Girl Loves Books. This is a very good historical fiction set in Paris during WWII and is based on a true story. Odile is a young French girl who dreams of working at the American Library in Paris. She obtains her dream job, forming deep friendships with the other workers. She also starts to date a handsome police officer introduced to her by her father. When war breaks out and the Nazis occupy Paris, she and her fellow librarians are determined to kee 4 stars You can read all of my reviews at Nerd Girl Loves Books. This is a very good historical fiction set in Paris during WWII and is based on a true story. Odile is a young French girl who dreams of working at the American Library in Paris. She obtains her dream job, forming deep friendships with the other workers. She also starts to date a handsome police officer introduced to her by her father. When war breaks out and the Nazis occupy Paris, she and her fellow librarians are determined to keep the library open. They send valuable books out of town to safety, and they smuggle books to Jewish patrons that are forbidden from going to the library. Lily is a lonely teenager in a small town in Montana in 1983 dreaming of being adventurous and traveling. She befriends her solitary elderly neighbor, Odile, and slowly learns how Odile went from having a life in Paris to being a widow in a small town in Montana. This is a beautifully written book. The story slowly unfolds and the time line jumps back and forth between Odile's life in Paris during WWII and Lily's life in Montana in 1983. The author does a fantastic job of developing Odile and Lily's characters, as well as building the characters around them. Normally I'm impatient with books that are slower in pace than other books I read, like fantasy and mystery books, but the author does such a great job that it didn't bother me. Odile and Lily are both impetuous and allow jealousy to get the better of them, and the way that Odile coaxes Lily to be more mindful of her actions is beautiful to read. I highly recommend you read this book. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and Atria Books. All opinions are my own.

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