A story of courage, defiance and betrayal in Occupied Paris, perfect for fans of All the Light We Cannot See, The Book Thief and The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society.
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.
Lily is a lonely teenager 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 who risked their lives during the Nazi’s war on words, The Paris Library by award-winning novelist Janet Skeslien Charles is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and of heroism found in the quietest of places.
For those of you who aren’t aware, I’m an avid reader of historical fiction, and as such, I’ve read plenty of WWII historical novels, particularly those set in Occupied Paris. The Paris Library was unlike any of these. Following Odile in her new job at the American Library in Paris, the novel offers a unique and refreshing take on the events of WWII, as seen through the lens of the library, its staff and subscribers.
The Paris setting was vividly imagined and beautifully wrought, especially the library, which is depicted as a warm, happy, safe and enlightened place. Charles herself actually lived in Paris for over a decade and even worked at The American Library in Paris, which is certainly evident when you follow her detailed descriptions of this building and the different kinds of people who occupied it.
While the novel is filled with gorgeous settings and a delightful cast of characters – some of whom actually existed in real life – what I loved the most about The Paris Library is the way it celebrates the power of books, libraries and storytelling.
Meticulously researched, moving and utterly enchanting, The Paris Library is a heart-breaking and uplifting story that is an absolute must-read for book lovers and fans of historical fiction. Books, libraries, Paris… what’s not to love?