Sunday, September 27, 2015

First Pages in Fiction: The Sea Keeper's Daughters

In this continuing series, "Novel Beginnings," I dissect first paragraphs of novels and show how the opening of a book sets the foundation for what's to follow in terms of tone, character and story intent. In this installment, we'll explore  The Sea Keeper's Daughters by Lisa Wingate. Here are the opening paragraphs:

Perhaps denial is the mind's way of protecting the heart from a sucker punch it can't handle. Or maybe it's simpler than that. Maybe denial is the face of overwhelming evidence is a mere byproduct of stubbornness.

Whatever the reason, all I could think standing in the doorway, one hand on the latch and the other trembling on the keys, was, This can't be happening. This can't be how it ends. It's so…quiet. A dream should make noise when it's dying. It deserves to go out in a tragic blaze of glory. There should be a dramatic death scene, a gasping for breath…something.

Denise laid a hand on my shoulder, whispered, "Are you all right?" Her voice faded at the end, cracking into jagged pieces.

"No." A hard, bitter tone sharpened the cutting edge on the word. It wasn't aimed at Denise. She knew that. "Nothing about this is all right. Not one single thing."

"Yeah." Resting against the doorframe, she let her neck go slack until her cheek touched the wood. "I'm not sure if it's better or worse to stand here looking at it, though. For the last time, I mean."

"We put our hearts into this place…" Denial reared its unreasonable head again. I would've called it hope, but if it was hope, it was false and paper-thin kind. The kind that only teases you...

Wingate launches her story with a profound statement about denial. And the paragraphs that follow bring an immediate sense of intimacy. Notice, however, the use of the words "death," "bitter," "hard," and "sharpening." This speaker is not happy and is grappling, but the philosophical nature of the opening sentences reveal the speaker to be wistful and sensitive. The speaker (not sure if it's a man or a woman) is taking a last look at a place that was obviously dear to her/him. Readers don't know what--or where--that place is, but intrigue deepens, especially when Denise offers a gentle touch and then breaks the speaker's reverie to ask, "Are you all right?" Denise's actions and words--and the conversation that ensues--gives the reader a sense that she is a friend and confidante, and she has a stake, along with the speaker, in something that is coming to a close or someplace these two people will have to leave. The speaker's "hard, bitter" response indicates that she is not a willful participant in whatever change is taking place. And thus, this story begins at the end of something.  

If you're familiar with books by Lisa Wingate (this novel is actually the third in her series of Carolina-based stories; read my review of The Prayer Box), you already know she writes multi-generational, dual time-frame novels of domestic fiction, where she often merges two story threads—a present-day story with a story from the past. You'd have to keep reading this novel to see how this opening scene serves to launch the journey of Whitney Monroe, a high-end (yet struggling) restaurant owner in Michigan who comes from a complicated family. When Whitney's elderly, estranged stepfather takes ill, she travels to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to be with him. He lives at the Excelsior, a famed hotel from the Gilded Age, which he also owns. (Whitney will one day inherit the hotel.) While Whitney is in residence, memories from her childhood are evoked, and she also discovers family heirlooms and letters exchanged between her grandmother and a relative Whitney never knew existed. In reading the letters and experiencing incidents involved, Whitney questions her family and heritage, and she is forced to confront issues of race, politics, identity and secrets.

Wingate once again writes an intriguing, multi-layered story where her main character must take a physical journey in order to trek deeper into the recesses of her soul.

Tyndale House Publishers, $19.99 Hardcover, 9781414388274, 448 pp
Publication Date: September 8, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Woman Who Stole My Life

In The Woman Who Stole My Life, Marian Keyes delivers a warm and positive--at times hilarious--read about the effects of serious illness.

The story is told by charming and chatty, Stella Sweeney--age "forty-one and a quarter"--and the account of what happened when she was a 37 year-old Irish beautician; the wife of a "successful but creatively unfulfilled" bathroom designer; and mother of two rebellious teenagers. Stella's life was humbly ordinary until a strange illness overtook her, making her paralyzed and mute. The diagnosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome--a rare, yet usually temporary, autoimmune disorder--attacks the nervous system. Stella, mentally attentive, remained confined to an I.C.U. The only way she could communicate was via blinking, and the only person who understood her was her handsome neurologist, Dr. Mannix Taylor. During her long hospital stay, the two bond and share intimate details about their lives.

After her arduous recovery, an American tabloid publishes a photo of the Vice-President's wife reading a self-help book called One Blink at a Time—Stella's story, complete with clever, stoic aphorisms she spouted during her ordeal. Stella is surprised to learn it was self-published, behind her back, by dreamy Dr. Taylor. The exposure brings Stella instant international fame and fortune—and the possibility of new love. But at what price?

Keyes (The Mystery of Mercy Close) depicts the realities of illness for the patient and all involved.  Her comic take on Stella's journey--coupled with her distinctive brand of humor and wit--showcases her imagination in top form.

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes
Viking, $27.95 Hardcover, 9780525429258, 464 pp
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (7/24/15), link HERE 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Love She Left Behind

A dead woman is the central character of The Love She Left Behind by British author Amanda Coe (What They Do in the Dark). The deceased is Sara, who, 35 years before her death from stomach cancer, deserted her husband and children--Nigel, then age 13, and Louise, age 10--and gave up everything to live with Patrick, a playwright for whom she was muse. Patrick never had any fondness for his stepchildren. After Sara uprooted her life for him, he paid for Nigel to attend boarding school and Louise was shipped off to live with an aunt after their birth father remarried and rejected them.

The book opens in Cornwall, in the now-dilapidated house Sara and Patrick shared. Nigel--a married, type-A lawyer and father--has little care or respect for Louise, a divorced, overweight, working-class mother of two rebellious teenagers over whom she has little control. They are faced with Patrick's irritability, drunkenness and writer's block. As the three go over details and assimilate the contents of Sara's will, it is revealed that the couple's house and the dramatic rights to Bloody Empire--a popular play Patrick wrote in the 1980s--were put in Sara's name for tax purposes. Patrick battles Nigel and Louise over the transfer of ownership, and brother and sister also lock horns.

Coe employs dark comedy to piece together and acutely observe emotional issues dealing with abandonment, loss, death and grief. The idea that we do not truly know the ones we love serves to solidify the cracked fault lines in the foundation of this thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking family saga.

The Love She Left Behind by Amanda Coe
W.W. Norton, $25.95 Hardcover, 978039324543, 256 pp
Publication Date: July 15, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (7/14/15), click HERE

Sunday, August 30, 2015

First Pages in Fiction: Scents and Sensibility

The first paragraphs of a novel can set the foundation for what's to follow in terms of tone, character and story intent.

Here are the first few paragraphs from the novel, Scents and Sensibility by Spencer Quinn:

Home at last! We'd been away so long, first in swampy country, then in a big city--maybe called Foggy Bottom--that confused me from the get-go. Is there time to mention the air in both those places before we really get started? Soggy and heavy: that sums it up.

Where were we? Was it possibly . . . home? Yes! Home! Home at last! Our home--mine and Bernie's--is on Mesquite Road. Mesquite Road's in the Valley. Quite recently I might have heard that the Valley's in Arizona, but don't count on that. What matters is that right now I was inhaling a nice big noseful of Valley air. Light and dry, with a hint of greasewood and just plain grease: perfect. I felt tip-top. Bernie opened our door, kicked aside a huge pile of mail, and we went in.

"Ah," said Bernie, dropping our duffel bag on the floor. I did the first thing that came to mind--just about always my MO--which in this case meant sniffing my way from room to room to room, zigzagging back and forth, nose to floor. Front hall, our bedroom, Charlie's bedroom--mattress bare on account of Charlie not being around much since the divorce--office, with the circus-elephant-pattern rug, where I actually picked up the faint whiff of elephant, even though no elephant had ever been in the office. I'd had some experience with elephants, specifically an elephant name of Peanut, no time to go into that now...

Do you get the idea the narrator isn't a person? Can you tell the voice leading you into the story is that of a dog? How? The speaker seems conflicted, yet what person do you know who sniffs his way from room to room? And the setting? It's telling that the speaker doesn't really know where "the Valley" is located, but as he inhales a "big, noseful of Valley air," he finds it light and dry, so we can gather this scene is set in the desert. And what's with the elephant rug? Well, that's what makes the reader keep reading...

If you're not familiar with the Chet and Bernie mystery-thriller series, you're missing out. Each book, there are eight in all, is narrated by Chet, a hyperactive dog, who works with his laid-back master and partner, Bernie Little of the Little Detective Agency.

In Scents and Sensibility, the duo have returned home from visiting Bernie's girlfriend in Washington D.C. and realize they've been robbed. The safe in Bernie's office has been pried out of a wall and stolen—complete with a prized watch that belonged to Bernie's grandfather. Then they realize their neighbor has an adult son (one they never knew he had, who is now residing next door) and also has a mature Saguaro Cactus suddenly growing on his front lawn. Where did it come from? How did it get there? It's against the law to move a cactus of this variety. Knowing the neighbor had a key to Chet and Bernie's house in case of emergency, is it possible the neighbor's son is the thief and the cactus transporter? What begins as a simple welcome home set-up evolves into another caseanother dangerous, crime-solving adventure—for Chet and Bernie involving cactus thieves, murder and a kidnapping.

This clever, funny and riveting series is perfect for fans of crime/mystery fiction and animal/pet lovers.

Atria Books, $25.00 Hardcover, 9781476703428, 320 pp
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Unexpected Consequences of Love

Romantic entanglements are Jill Mansell's specialty, and in The Unexpected Consequences of Love, she cleverly snares knots into several interwoven story threads spun from St. Carys, a seaside town in Cornwall, UK.
The main storyline focuses on commercial photographer, Sophie Wells, a young woman who plies her craft in earnest in order to put a painful romantic past behind her. When Josh Strachan moves back to town after a stint as a Los Angeles, Ca. talent agent to help his grandmother, Dot, run Mariscombe House, the family hotel, he is instantly smitten with Sophie, who is doing a photo shoot at the inn. Having sworn off romance, Sophie doesn't look twice at Josh. This only encourages him to work harder to win Sophie's affections—and solve the mystery about her past.

Amid Josh's pursuit, Sophie's free-spirited best friend, Tula, loses her job and moves to St. Carys. When Tula arrives, she is instantly attracted to Josh, but another man from town, Riley--a ne'er do well and flirt--has eyes for Tula. What will it take for Riley to turn Tula's head? Things grow even more complicated when Tula lands a job at Mariscombe House.

Mansell has written another lively, engaging romance where an ensemble of characters--including Grandma Dot--have had their hearts wounded by the past and secrets. Each member of the cast is faced with hang-ups and heartbreaks and the conflicts inherent in the prospect of loving again. Amid obstacles that challenge happy endings, Mansell braids in poignancy, humor and unexpected grace.
The Unexpected Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell
Sourcebooks Landmark, $14.00 Paperback, 9781492602088, 432 pp
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (2/10/15), link HERE

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Valley Fever

A broken romantic relationship propels a disillusioned young woman back to her hometown of Fresno, Calif., in Katherine Taylor's vivid, enjoyable second novel, Valley Fever. This story of family, friendship, loyalty and betrayal is narrated by sharp-witted, 30-something Ingrid Palamede, who settles into the colorful backdrop of the Central Valley and her family's faltering 20,000-acre riverside vineyard--Palamede Farms. The vineyard has a storied history: Ingrid's father, Ned, inherited his first hundred acres and, over the years, kept buying and cultivating more land. But the farm is now in financial trouble, Ned is ill and Ingrid's mother is contemptuous. With plenty of free time now, Ingrid offers to help. Is she the savior the farm needs?

As she becomes embroiled in the small-town landscape that shaped her, Ingrid revisits her past, brushing up against an old flame, an estranged best friend and an employee suspected of stealing from the farm. Ingrid's sister, Anne--a successful voice-over actress in Los Angeles who would do anything for her--is leery about Ingrid's plight. And then there's "Uncle" Felix, Ned's oldest and dearest friend, another vintner, who makes his living by purchasing grapes from other farmers--including the Palamedes. With Ingrid in charge, will Felix hold up his end of the bargain, or will sour grapes and self-interest trump professional bonds?

Taylor (Rules for Saying Goodbye) delivers a vivid, bittersweet, entertaining drama that harvests ripe truths about self-discovery, the workings of the heart and the tangled vines of families and fortunes.

Valley Fever: A Novel by Katherine Taylor
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26 Hardcover, 9780374299149, 304 pp   
Publication Date: June 9, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (6/30/15), click HERE

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Commentary: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee


The buzz has been building for Go Set a Watchman. This long-awaited first novel was written 50 years ago by Harper Lee before she re-tooled it as To Kill a Mockingbird. I've always been a fan of Mockingbird and Lee (see my Op-Ed in The Record,  7/6/10). And while, as a writer, I am very intrigued by the whole premise of reading the vision of a work before it was edited, early reviews of the novel are making me very leery. And I would bet there have been more articles and criticism already written about—and in anticipation of—Watchman than the 288 pages of the novel itself!

Reviews of Watchman have been disillusioned and unsettling. Most notably (and shockingly) is the character of lawyer and father, Atticus Finch. In Mockingbird, he was a paragon of virtue. In Watchman, reviewers are saying he is a racist bigot—who even attended a Ku Klux Klan meeting.  Watchman is set 20 years later than Mockingbird and builds on the premise of now 20-year-old Scout and her return visit to Maycomb, Ala. from where she now lives in New York City. Upon arriving back in her hometown, Scout is shocked to find that her father holds "abhorrent views on race and segregation," according to Michiko Kakutani  of The New York Times.

How did this happen?

If this review and others are accurate in their assessments, then the very idea of Watchman is confusing and troubling. Was Mockingbird scrubbed of Atticus's racist tendencies in order to make him and the story more commercially viable—to appeal to the masses, a wide swatch of African-Americans and Caucasians? If so, was this choice an artistically aesthetic choice or simply a means to drive up book sales? What might be the reason why Lee would recast Atticus so significantly from a racist "sinner" in Watchman into a morally upright and virtuous "saint" in Mockingbird ?  Yes, the novel is fiction, as is the character of Atticus Finch (although he is said to be closely based on Lee's own father). But for a writer, this would be like rewriting the character of Mother Theresa into an abusive harridan the likes of Joan Crawford!

Mockingbird has sold well over 50 million copies. What author wouldn't want their work read and enjoyed, debated and celebrated by the masses? It remains required reading in schools throughout the USA and beyond. And yes, Lee has made millions and even won a Pulitzer Prize for Mockingbird

But did Lee pay a price—in her soul—to craft the Mockingbird narrative away from her original vision as found in Watchman?

Mockingbird is and will more than likely remain a classic novel. But might Lee have felt, deep down, that she "sold out" her vision by acquiescing to editorial demands--overhauling the Atticus of Watchman in order to make the good and evil aspects of Mockingbird more black-and-white (pardon the pun) and more marketable? Could it be that she felt it was best to let the worldly success and glory of Mockingbird remain as is and never allow her work (or even herself) to be doctored for mass appeal ever again? Might her 50-years of public silence be more understandable when viewed in this context?

Which leads to my next question: if early reviews of Watchman are discerningly on-target, then did Lee really sanction its publication? Could suspicions of Lee's lack of cognizance be accurate? Why would she strip off the idyllic finish of Atticus as portrayed in Mockingbird and tarnish his persona by finally exposing his "dark side" in Watchman? And why now? Was Lee manipulated into publishing Watchman just as she was manipulated to rewrite the essence of Watchman and transform it into the more idealistic version of Mockingbird?  

On the flip side remains the possibility that Lee is completely aware of her intentions—that she is fully mindful and astute. Whether she "sold out" her story or not for Mockingbird, perhaps before her life ends, she wants, for her own peace of mind, for others to experience her original vision, the way she first envisioned the novel?  After all, considering the strides made for equality over the past 50 years, the racial divide is still miles apart and a hot-button issue—especially with the police-civilian riots in St. Louis and Baltimore and the Charleston, South Carolina church massacre. Perhaps Lee has been closely watching current world events unfold and believes Watchman—with its darker, less politically correct themes—may prove even more relevant today than if the book was released 50 years before?

Calculated decision or coercion, we'll likely never know the author's true intent or the real story behind the reasons for publication of Watchman. And maybe "not knowing" will, in the end, serve to further ratchet up book sales, intensify conversations and debates about the continued racial unrest in our country and ultimately make Watchman even more appealing and well-read than Mockingbird.

"To Kill A Watchman?" (commentary) © 2015 by Kathleen Gerard 
Note: Do not reprint, reproduce, post online or copy without proper attribution 

Harper, $27.99 Hardcover, 9780062409850, 288 pp

Publication Date: July 14, 2015

To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (50th Anniversary Edition)

Harper Torch, $25.00 Hardcover, 9780061743528, 323 pp

Publication Date: May 11, 2010

To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Monday, July 6, 2015

Nina George: The Power of Books to Heal

The Writer's Life
Nina George writes contemporary novels centered on people "who undertake a physical journey that leads to self-discovery" because, she admits, she does the very same thing in her own life. "The quests, the odysseys, the 'joyful wanderings' (exploration, seeking the way, straying from the beaten path) are what constitutes a life." While she is of German descent, France is "in her blood" due to influences from her mother's side of the family. She believes "the French soul lay closer to (her) heart than German sensibilities." George lives in the Finistére region of Brittany, "at the end of the world.... Although," she claims, "some say it is where the world begins." The Little Paris Bookshop (read the review below or link HEREwas first published in German as "Das Lavendelzimmer" in 2013; it has sold over 500,000 copies and been translated into more than 27 languages. Crown will publish the novel in the U.S. in June. (Interview translated by Heidi Holzer.)
The Little Paris Bookshop largely takes place on French waterways. Have you ever taken a river cruise through France?
My father died the same year I'd planned to take the tour, and I also had a titanium implant in my neck. So I talked to "river people" and borrowed their river diaries. I spoke with tourists and locals. In 2014 (after the book had been on the bestseller list for a year), my husband, Jo, and I finally drove along the route. We ate and drank in Montargis and Cepoy, checked out houseboats for sale and drove across the canal bridge in Briare.
Sanary-sur-mer becomes the cornerstone of the novel. Is there any special reason why you chose to make this locale central to the plot of the story?
Oh, yes! In 2012, I explored Provence and drove around the region, 1,500 kilometers [930 miles], until the land answered my questions. I went to Sanary-sur-mer because it was the home of German women writers in exile. In a way, I felt as though I were in exile as well. My father had died, my body--my neck--was injured. It felt as though I'd lost my way: my life, my sense of inner childhood, my security. Sanary was a place of healing for me. I believe that everyone has a secret place where they are made "whole" again, no matter what it was that broke them in the first place.
Would you say a sense of brokenness inspired the novel?
Life. Death. Books. Dreams.... It began with the success of Die Mondspielerin/The Moon Musician, after which people expected me to write another novel. I wanted to explore the great themes of guilt, heartbreak and beginning one's "'actual" life all over again. My father died in 2011, and that was the caesura in my life, in everything that I am. I've been writing for 23 years. I'm a professional writer. Yet after my father's much too sudden death, I felt something break inside--my deep grief brought me back to myself. And it also redefined what I want to and am able to write about.
So I wrote about life, about survival after the death of a loved one, about the power of books that can heal everything--absolutely everything. And about living in one's own dreams. I felt free to do whatever I wanted, because I'd already gone through the worst possible thing in life. Since then, rules have no longer applied to me. For survivors, nothing is forbidden.
You pay your father a beautiful tribute in the dedication to this novel.
My father was a loving man. I never met any human being like him. He was kind and strong. He didn't have a great deal of education--no one did in postwar Germany--and yet he was wise and read up on everything. We'd been discussing my work since the early days of my career--I landed my first job, with a newspaper, at the age of 19. By 22, I'd written the first of what are now 26 books--and he read everything I wrote. We debated, he offered praise. He always wanted to know how I came up with things. No one else has ever been so intensely interested in what I think. He never wanted me to be simply "pretty" or "a good girl." His desire was for me to think, to develop internal endurance. He encouraged me in sports, challenged me to think. He helped develop my political sensibility and demanded that I respect people, cultures and religions. I was never to assume that my truth is the only one that matters. In a sense, the way he brought me up laid the groundwork for how I'm able to see the world.
Why has this novel resonated so deeply with readers?
Because it's a story about death and about how much we can be shaped by loss, by missing a person. Grieving, or admitting that the loss of a loved one has derailed us, was unfashionable, forbidden for much of the past. Also, there is a dedicated community of people in the world who will always be able to connect with each other across all languages, boundaries and religions. It is the "Readers' Club." People who read a lot, starting at a very young age, are people who were raised by books. They have learned about forms of love and hate, kindness, respect and ideas that are different from their own. They experience the world as something infinitely larger than before. They enjoy the indescribable feeling of having found their true selves.
We readers are book people, and Jean Perdu [the protagonist] is one of us. We are all traveling on an invisible literary riverboat, one that carries us down the stream of life. It shapes, holds and comforts us.
At the end of the novel, you include a compendium of books/titles to cure whatever ails a reader. If you were to include The Little Paris Bookshop on that list, what ailment would this novel serve to cure/alleviate?
Catharsis and healing. Das Lavendelzimmer/The Little Paris Bookshop is both a kind of cleansing and a literary form of solace. It penetrates areas of the soul where old and grand emotions are hidden. Grief, melancholy, regret that we are not 16 anymore, compassion, the desire to be loved by our parents, finding the place where we feel whole, understanding the fears in our dreams. The book cleanses these wounds--and above all, it provides solace. In Germany, people often give books to friends who are starting over: a new life, a new job, a new era.
Jean Perdu has a favorite book that changed his life. Do you have a book that changed yours?
My library holds 3,500 books, and I've read around 4,200 in my life. Every book has had an effect on me, but I'll mention only three:
Ein Fisch ohne Fahrrad (A Fish Without a Bicycle) by Elizabeth Dunkel: At a time when I didn't know whether I wanted to love or be loved, or which one would be harder to bear.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery: At a time when I felt I didn't trust myself to be the person I am.
The diaries of Anais Nin: To help me understand that I have a sexual identity.
Will there be a 27th book?
I'm working on a novel that is about being afraid that one is not good enough and what awaits us in the space between life and death. It also deals with the question of whether there is even such a thing as the "right" life. 

Note: This interview is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of
 Shelf Awareness. To read this 

Q&A as originally published on Shelf Awareness  (4/8/14), click HERE

The Little Paris Bookshop

Nina George's enchanting The Little Paris Bookshop deals with the nature of grief; the power of friendship, love and truth; and how reading and books have the capacity to change peoples' lives, souls and destinies. The narrative centers on 50-year-old Monsieur Jean Perdu, who owns a bookstore called the Literary Apothecary--actually a floating barge "the length of three truck trailers" that houses 8,000 books, moored on the Seine. Perdu lives at 27 Rue Montagnard and is a passionate bibliophile who believes that booksellers don't just look after books, they look after people. 

Things take a turn when two new residents move into Rue Montagnard. Max Jordan is a young author whose debut novel has made him famous, but he is plagued with writers' block. The other new neighbor is Madame Catherine, who moves into the flat across the hall from Perdu. The tenants of the building rally to help this newly cast-off wife who has nothing of her own to set up her new apartment. 

Perdu delivers a table to Madame Catherine's apartment, and she discovers a letter hidden inside that causes Perdu's head and heart to spiral into an emotional tailspin. He takes refuge in the Literary Apothecary, soon hauling anchor and setting sail--but not before Max, who's being pursued by paparazzi, jumps aboard the moving barge. 

George is a lyrical writer whose beautiful, sensory language and imagery enhance this adventurous, moving narrative. On their voyage, the men are frequently mistaken for father and son, and they pass the time by sharing life stories. In the end, their excursion propels Perdu to finally reconnect with himself--the person he was, is and who he will become in the future.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Crown Publishing, $25.99 Hardcover, 9780553418774, 400 pp
Publication Date: June 23, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE 

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (6/30/14), click HERE

To read the full review of this novel as originally published as a special feature of Shelf Awareness: Maximum Shelf (4/8/14)--a much longer and much more comprehensive review--link HERE