The first pages bring forth Monsieur Perdu, a man in his fifty, who seems to have very little to enjoy in this world. He’s the owner of the “Literary Apothecary”, which is a book barge on Seine River in Paris.
Monsieur Jean Perdu is not your typical bookshop keeper. When you enter his bookshop, you don’t get what you want but what Monsieur Perdu thinks it’s the best choice of book for you. He sits you down in his chair and asks you questions about yourself and “prescribes” the right books for you.
Love found and lost in Paris
The bookshop keeper is torn between past and present, between then and now. He met his love in Paris, a young woman named Manon, who was about to be married to another man. Manon wanted to have it all, both Monsieur Perdu and Luc Basset. They each represented parts of herself without which she couldn’t be whole. She longed and needed them both, fully aware of her selfishness.
Their love wasn’t meant to last. After spending time together, Manon left Jean Perdu, not without living a letter behind her. Jean Perdu didn’t have the courage to open the letter. He had never been ready to read something which he had suspected all along. No apology would have been enough to justify her decision.
However hard he fought to forget her, Monsieur Perdu didn’t manage to let her go. He found peace in his daily routine, enquiring about other people’s lives and, so, forgetting about his own. His daily care was revolved around two cats, who found shelter on his boat and the customers, who opened his door and opened their hearts and souls to find answers in between the pages of the books he prescribed.
His existence is disrupted by a new figure in his life: his new neighbour Catherine. Not being able to let Manon go, he understood he couldn’t open up to Catherine until he didn’t amend his old wounds. He finds the letter Manon left for him when she decided to leave.
Instead of apologizing for leaving, as Monsieur Perdu had thought, Manon was letting him know that she was dying, and she was begging him to come to her. The moment he read the letter, he felt more lost than usual. An avalanche of feelings invaded his existence, and his remorsefulness wasn’t enough to release him from the guilt of not being there for her in her last moments.
That’s when he finds the courage to set sail and find what Manon left behind, thinking it was the only way to heal.
In his journey to the past, Monsieur Perdu is accompanied by two very different characters. One is a famous young writer, the other is a lovelorn Italian chef. Their journey is different from that of Monsieur Perdu. While Jean takes the journey to heal the past so he can enjoy the present, the writer and the Italian chef take the journey to discover it.
The three men have a very different and yet so similar view on life. One searches for inspiration where inspiration was lost; the other one just wants closeness and understanding. They all start off as strangers in the great adventure of life and find themselves through the people they meet on the way.
The characters in „The Little Paris Bookshop“
Monsieur Perdu is a passionate man, whose passion seemed to have been buried the day when Manon left him. His existence revolves around other people, for he finds no relief in his own life. He prescribes the books he denies himself, thinking there’s a book for everyone’s soul apart from his.
Max Jordan is a young writer, who wrote one book and lost his inspiration. Although he’s not appreciated, at first, by Monsieur Perdu, he turns out to be an exceptional young man and a good friend. He ends up falling in love with Manon’s daughter and turns his inspiration into children books.
The Italian chef is a simple man, with a big heart. He was in love with the memory of a girl he once knew. His recipe for life revolves around food. He philosophy is simple: life is lived through the sense and food, just as life, will turn out unexpected if you use the right combination of ingredients. His appearance might be simple, but his heart and his dedication are without reproach.
Catherine, Monsieur Perdu’s neighbour, came into his life after a bad divorce. Despite her bad experience, she wasn’t ready to deny herself closeness and fulfilment in the arms of another person.
She’s the patient kind, who believes that all good things come to those who wait. Catherine’s patient with Monsieur Perdu and with herself. She understands his need for mending the past to give his heart to her without regret and sorrow.
Manon embodies the wild type of love: strong and determined, living through the senses at every beat. Though Monsieur Perdu is the literary healer, Manon is the philosophical one.
She’s both “Adam and Eve”, wanting to be apart and together at the same time, perfect in their little world they made for themselves. Paris was their “Garden of Eden”, a paradise away from the crowd, yet, in the middle of it.
Takeaways from „The Little Paris Bookshop“
“The Little Paris Bookshop” has a unique flavour. Hidden among books, we get to witness life. Hidden among love, we get to witness healing and hope.
Monsieur Perdu makes us realize that there’s no such thing as a broken heart that cannot be healed.
Despite everyone’s original plan, life has a way of surprising us all, providing us with the opportunity to grow and learn, to heal and love.
- A lovely dinner with friends
- A cat purring on your lap while you read a good book
- The sunset
- Love in every form and from all places
If there’s one thing we can take from the book is that our existence means little to none without someone to share it with.
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