The Paris Library
By Janet Skeslien Charles
Loved the little love notes to books sprinkled within this multi-textured, dual timeline story: bookmates, books as remedies, moving books to safety, Dewey Decimal treasure hunts.
In the 1930’s story line, the young protagonist, Odile, begins work at the American Library in Paris at the onset of WWII and the Nazi’s occupation of the city. Based on the true story of the librarians’ heroism in keeping the doors open and resisting the Gestapo, the story unwinds the mounting tension from the occupation and the desperate naivete of Odile’s idealistic passion for keeping the library shelves open to all – for books “keep the hearts beating, brains imagining and hope alive.”
Meanwhile, the second timeline is in the 1960’s in which we meet a much older reclusive Odile through the eyes of her young neighbor, Lily. As Lily gradually befriends Odile, the two influence each other. Lily faces painful coming-of-age struggles with a broken family while we discover what happened to Odile, why she’s hidden herself away in Montana, and now whether she can attempt to make amends for mistakes from the past. Well done.