The Paris Library

I received The Paris Library by Janey Skeslien Charles as an advanced reader copy from NetGalley. This book will be released on February 9, 2021.

The Paris Library checks so many boxes for me. Historical Fiction – check. World War II story – check. Independent woman as the main character – check. A book about books – check. A fictionalized story about a real place – check. I wanted to love this book. In the end, this was a 3-star book for me.

The story is told like many World War II historical fiction books – a present day story and a story from World War II. The stories are connected by the main character. In this case, Odile’s past story is told in her own words while she was as a librarian at the American Library in Paris (ALP) during World War II. The present day story is told in Lily’s voice, Odile’s neighbor in Montana during the the 1980’s.

The reason for the 3 star rating is two fold. The first reason…I didn’t like Lily. Throughout the story I couldn’t connect to her character. I didn’t care about what happened to her. The author was trying to connect Lily’s behavior with that of Odile’s in her past. Even though I understood that, I still didn’t like her character. I would cringe every time I got to a Lily chapter. Honestly I could have skipped all of those chapters and enjoyed the story.

The second reason…the ending was terrible. The next last chapter was, in my opinion, completely unnecessary. Just why??? The last chapter ended with Lily and no closure to Odile’s story. It was so disappointing.

You may be wondering why I gave this book 3 stars. Odile’s chapters were wonderful. The descriptions of the ALP made you feel like you were walking the stacks along side her. The other characters from the ALP were richly written and as you find out in the author’s notes at the end, based on real people, some of which she used their real names. So, do I think this book is worth your time? YES! For Odile’s past story alone, yes. I’d like to visit the American Library in Paris based on this book and that alone grants the 3 stars for me. This picture of the ALP during World War II along with others and so much information can be found on the ALP website. Last year they celebrated 100 years.

I’d love to know what you’re reading!

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