If there is one thing that I have learned about literature, it’s that every story has a history. Some we learn, some we will never know. What matters is that the story is there, ready to consume, because of the belief of someone.
As a lover of Paris, I opened the pages to The Paris Bookseller, unaware of what it would bring me. Would I feel transported to the world? Would I feel as though it was a story out of place and time? Would it capture what Paris is? What it could be?
Having been to Paris, Shakespeare and Company has always fascinated me. It’s been a place where I felt at home, but I never knew any origins or anything about the original Shakespeare and Company.
I will admit that I am not the biggest fan of historical fiction. I do know that history does repeat itself and reading historical fiction is important. The Paris Bookseller is beautifully written, words woven together to pull you in, grab hold of your literature loving heart, and wishing that you were born in a different time.
That being said, even the most beautifully written books aren’t books that we necessarily love.
In the book, as Sylvia and Adrienne set out on their romantic journey, the two are swept up in the ever bustling world of writers in Paris. Sylvia has opened up the first English bookstore and lending library in Paris. It caters to the tourists and ex-pats who are visiting or living in the City of Lights. Adrienne is the owner of another book store in Paris. They have found comfort and love in each other. They are spending time with each other, everyone wrapped up in living their best lives, and finding their way.
Sylvia is entranced by James Joyce and when his book Ulysses is banned in other countries, and Joyce was unable to find a publisher. Sylvia takes on the cost of publishing the book, even going as far to smuggle it to places that it was banned. Taking on the financial burden, as well as Joyce’s demand on her time and money, eventually was a large part of her undoing financially and health wise. But reading The Paris Bookseller, you can tell that Sylvia still appreciated what she had done and believed in her choices.
Even when Joyce went as far to publish with another publisher.
Reading the book, you can understand and see that Maher loved the subject matter. And it’s that care that comes across in the beautifully weaved words that strung together to keep you entranced, like one becomes entranced with Paris. But, my issue with the book is that it felt as though it was bogged down with details and left me feeling like I was in school reading a well written text book.
It wasn’t a book that I could get through in one sitting, it took time. But I don’t regret the time that I took to read it. It gave me a want to revisit books from some of the greats.
For fans of historical fiction, The Paris Bookseller is a must read. Maher’s love for history shines through. Make sure to read the authors note at the end, as it will help to understand the story and Sylvia overall.
The Paris Bookseller is available today.