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- The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles -

Published : 7th January 2021

Publisher : TwoRoads

Format : Kindle, Audio, Hardback

Genre : Literary Fiction

{ ๐š๐: ๐ฉ๐ซ ๐ฉ๐ซ๐จ๐๐ฎ๐œ๐ญ / ๐ ๐ข๐Ÿ๐ญ๐ž๐ ๐š๐ซ๐œ }

๐‘๐ž๐ฏ๐ข๐ž๐ฐ #14/๐Ÿ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ

* All words highlighted in Grey are affiliate links to either purchase from a range of sellers or links to the authors sites. Where ever possible I will try and provide different versions of the book on all purchase sites.


PARIS, 1939

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 teenage 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, this is an unforgettable novel of romance, friendship, family, and of heroism found in the quietest of places.

Thank you @JohnMurray for this stunning proof

My Review

"I had learned that love was not patient, love was not kind. Love was conditional. The people closest to you could turn their backs on you, saying goodbye for something that seemed like nothing. You could only depend on yourself."

The story is told over two periods: Paris, 1939-1944 and America 1983 - 1984.

It is February, 1939 and Odile Souchet a young Parisian woman has just been accepted for her dream job at an American Library in Paris. She absolutely loves books and has memorized the Dewey Decimal system. At home Odile's father who works for the local police brings home regularly prospective suiters for his daughter until she meets Paul and she is totally swept away. But then war comes and everything has to change.

The German army march there way into Paris and the locals are now living within a city with new rules that they all need to learn to live by very quickly. The librarians start to hide thousands of books and also take huge risks delivering them to Jewish people who can no longer use the library and soldiers who are convalescing in hospital. When the war is finally over instead of celebrating Odile is devastated by the fact that the one person with whom she trusted and loved the most has betrayed her.

Fast forward to America 1983, Odile is now the widow of an American soldier Buck Gustafson, who she met back home in Paris. One day a teenager called Lily is looking for a distraction from the isolation of living within a small town in Montana when she decides to approach Odile, her teacher and ask her for an interview for her school report.

This is where a friendship begins to bloom between the two, Odile teaches Lily the French language of her home and so much more about love and friendships.

Why I Loved It

I loved the references to the Dewey decimal system and to specific books within that time period. Reading the war through the eyes of the librarians and the people it served, the risks that they took was completely eye opening

I don't tend to read many war time stories but the few that I have, I have found that from the very first page my mind is totally beholden to the history and the story that is written on the pages. I really enjoyed reading this story in two parts, during the war and afterwards watching Odile go from a young Parisian woman full of hope to the lonely and solitary Mrs Gustafson that she becomes in America.

If you like war time stories that are wrapped around books and a great story then this one is for you.



Buy from

๐Ÿ›’ Waterstones

๐Ÿ›’ Amazon

Meet the author

Janet Skeslien Charles is the award-winning author of Moonlight in Odessa and The Paris Library.

Her shorter work has appeared in revues such as Slice and Montana Noir. She learned about the history of the American Library in Paris while working there as the programs manager.

She divides her time between Montana and Paris.


Connect with Janet




Books by this Author

Moonlight In Odessa

Claire's Similar reads

Beyond The Moon by Catherine Taylor

While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart

I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on this review, if you have read this book why not drop me a line telling me your thoughts?

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