Charming and Unforgettable: Read an Extract of The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

Charming and Unforgettable: Read an Extract of The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles
Paris, February 1939

Numbers floated round my head like stars. 823. The numbers were the key to a new life. 822. Constellations of hope. 841.
In my bedroom late at night, in the morning on the way to get croissants, series after series – 810, 840, 890 – formed in front of my eyes. They represented freedom, the future. Along with the numbers, I’d studied the history of libraries, going back to the 1500s. In England, while Henry VIII was busy chopping off his wives’ heads, our King François was modernising his library, which he opened to scholars. His royal collection was the beginning of the Bibliothèque Nationale.

Now, at the desk in my bedroom, I prepared for my job interview at the American Library, reviewing my notes one last time: founded in 1920; the first in Paris to let the public into the stacks; subscribers from over thirty countries, a quarter of them from France. I held fast to these facts and figures, hoping they’d make me appear qualified to the Directress.

I strode from my family’s apartment on the sooty rue de Rome, across from the Saint-Lazare train station, where locomotives coughed up smoke. The wind whipped my hair, and I tucked tendrils under my tam hat. In the distance, I could see the dome of Saint-Augustin Church. Religion, 200. Old Testament, 221. And the New Testament? I waited, but the number wouldn’t come. I was so nervous that I forgot
simple facts.

I drew my notebook from my handbag. Ah, yes, 225. I knew that…

Continue reading the extract here…

Reviews

5 Quick Questions with Janet Skeslien Charles, Author of The Paris Library

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9 February 2021

5 Quick Questions with Janet Skeslien Charles, Author of The Paris Library

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        Synopsis

        Inspired by the true story of the librarians who risked their lives during the Nazis' war on words: a story of courage and betrayal inspired by real-life defiance in Occupied Paris, perfect for fans of All the Light We Cannot See, The Book Thief and The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie SocietyPARIS, 1939 Odile Souchet is obsessed with books, and her new job at the American Library in Paris - with its thriving community of students, writers and book lovers - is a dream come true. When war is declared, the Library is determined to remain open. But then the Nazis invade Paris, and everything changes. In Occupied Paris, choices as black and white as the words on a page become a murky shade of grey - choices that will put many on the wrong side of history, and the consequences of which will echo for decades to come.MONTANA, 1983 Lily is a lonely teenage desperate to escape small-town Montana. She grows close to her neighbour Odile, discovering they share the same love of language, the same longings. But as Lily uncovers more about Odile's mysterious past, she discovers a dark secret, closely guarded and long hidden.Based on the true Second World War story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable novel of romance, friendship, family, and of heroism found in the quietest of places.
        Janet Skeslien Charles
        About the author

        Janet Skeslien Charles

        Janet Skeslien Charles is an award-winning author with over a decade's worth of roaming the streets of Paris and researching in its libraries. Her debut novel, Moonlight in Odessa, was published in ten languages and was awarded the Melissa Nathan prize and the Completement Livre prize in Strasbourg.Originally from Montana, as a child she lived on the same street as a French war bride and was fascinated by the war stories of her French professor. Janet began to research The Paris Library when she worked as Programs Manager at the American Library in Paris. Until recently she taught in Paris, where she still lives.

        Books by Janet Skeslien Charles

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