Reviews for The Paris Library

by Janet Skeslien Charles

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Odile Souchet lands her dream job at the American Library in Paris, much to the chagrin of her father, who thinks she should focus on finding a husband. But it is 1939, and soon she has bigger worries as Nazis occupy the city, and even the inimitable directress, Miss Reeder, cannot guarantee the safety of the library's books and patrons. Forty years later, in a small Montana town, Lily Jacobsen is curious about her quiet, elegant neighbor, and soon Odile Gustafson is giving her French lessons, and they're dreaming up their own library classification system. Chapters alternate between Odile in Paris, where readers get to know Boris, the Russian head librarian, eccentric patron Professor Cohen, and Odile's twin brother, Rémy, who enlists in the French army. In Montana, Lily relies on Odile for guidance through family and friend trouble, though she senses Odile is keeping a secret. Charles brings her experience working at the American Library in Paris to this novel inspired by real people, that is a love letter to Paris, the power of books, and the beauty of intergenerational friendship.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Charles (Moonlight in Odessa) delivers a delightful chronicle of a woman’s life in WWII-era Paris and rural 1980s Montana. Shortly before the Germans invade France, Odile Souchet, a young Parisian who has adored the American Library in Paris since childhood lands a job there as a librarian. During the occupation, the library remains open and delivers books to soldiers. After Odile learns that her friend Margaret has become enamored with Felix, a Nazi soldier, she tells her fiancé, Paul, a policeman, of Margaret’s folly, and is shocked when Paul beats Margaret, leading Odile to leave and volunteer at the American Hospital. Charles then skips forward to 1983 Froid, Mont., where seventh-grader Lily befriends her widowed neighbor Odile Gustafson, who teaches her French and reveals secrets about her life in Paris. Their bond strengthens throughout Lily’s teenage years. Charles’s richly detailed plot incorporates historical figures from the American Library and highlights the perils of occupied Paris. Historical fiction fans will be drawn to the realistic narrative and the bond of friendship forged between a widow and a lonely young girl. Agent: Heather Jackson, Heather Jackson Literary. (Feb.)


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Odile Souchet lands her dream job at the American Library in Paris, much to the chagrin of her father, who thinks she should focus on finding a husband. But it is 1939, and soon she has bigger worries as Nazis occupy the city, and even the inimitable directress, Miss Reeder, cannot guarantee the safety of the library's books and patrons. Forty years later, in a small Montana town, Lily Jacobsen is curious about her quiet, elegant neighbor, and soon Odile Gustafson is giving her French lessons, and they're dreaming up their own library classification system. Chapters alternate between Odile in Paris, where readers get to know Boris, the Russian head librarian, eccentric patron Professor Cohen, and Odile's twin brother, Rémy, who enlists in the French army. In Montana, Lily relies on Odile for guidance through family and friend trouble, though she senses Odile is keeping a secret. Charles brings her experience working at the American Library in Paris to this novel inspired by real people, that is a love letter to Paris, the power of books, and the beauty of intergenerational friendship.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

It's 1939 when Odile gets her dream job as a librarian at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis move in to occupy France, the library is allowed to stay open. Odile, along with a small band of librarians, patrons, and volunteers, form a secret resistance that includes hiding forbidden titles and delivering books to banished Jewish patrons. Despite the horrors of war, the library is the constant that keeps her going. In 1983 in a small Montana town, 12-year-old Lily uses a school report as an excuse to meet her mysterious French neighbor. The older woman helps Lily through her tumultuous teen years, offering books, advice, and refuge. In Charles's second novel (after Moonlight in Odessa), Odile is a complex character, both brave and childish. She can be unforgiving and impetuous as she watches the war make good people do bad things. Through her interactions with Lily, her regrets and the one betrayal for which she cannot forgive herself are revealed.VERDICT Plan for extra copies, as this tale has all the hallmarks of a book club pick. [See "Seasonal Selections," LJ 2/20.]—Vicki Briner, Broomfield, CO


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

World War II Paris during the German occupation forms the setting for an intelligent and sensuously rich novel of a young woman's coming-of-age. In 1939, Odile Souchet, the daughter of the captain of a police precinct, has just finished library school. She lands her dream job assisting patrons of the American Library, which serves both foreigners and Parisians, and falls in love with one of the police officers her father brings home for dinner. As the war proceeds and the Nazis take over the city, she fears for her twin brother, who has been captured by the Germans, places herself in danger by transporting books to Jewish patrons who are forbidden to visit the library, and begins to question some of her boyfriend's actions. Her story is juxtaposed with that of a teenager named Lily who, in 1983, lives in a small rural town in Montana. When Lily's mother becomes ill, Lily grows close to her previously frosty next-door neighbor Odile, who moved to Montana as a bride immediately after the war ended. While the chapters featuring Lily are snappy and often amusing, especially as she begins to adopt Parisian airs, they play a distinctly secondary role to those concerning Odile's life during the war. Structurally, the novel sometimes sags: Charles tends to move into the points of view of secondary characters, which leads to some repetition. But the author has a clear affection for both Paris and the American Library, where she worked as a programs manager in 2010, and she integrates the stories of many of the real-life employees and patrons of the library into the story with finesse, earning the novel its own place in the pantheon of World War II fiction. A novel tailor-made for those who cherish books and libraries. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Odile Souchet lands her dream job at the American Library in Paris, much to the chagrin of her father, who thinks she should focus on finding a husband. But it is 1939, and soon she has bigger worries as Nazis occupy the city, and even the inimitable directress, Miss Reeder, cannot guarantee the safety of the library's books and patrons. Forty years later, in a small Montana town, Lily Jacobsen is curious about her quiet, elegant neighbor, and soon Odile Gustafson is giving her French lessons, and they're dreaming up their own library classification system. Chapters alternate between Odile in Paris, where readers get to know Boris, the Russian head librarian, eccentric patron Professor Cohen, and Odile's twin brother, Rémy, who enlists in the French army. In Montana, Lily relies on Odile for guidance through family and friend trouble, though she senses Odile is keeping a secret. Charles brings her experience working at the American Library in Paris to this novel inspired by real people, that is a love letter to Paris, the power of books, and the beauty of intergenerational friendship.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Charles (Moonlight in Odessa) delivers a delightful chronicle of a woman’s life in WWII-era Paris and rural 1980s Montana. Shortly before the Germans invade France, Odile Souchet, a young Parisian who has adored the American Library in Paris since childhood lands a job there as a librarian. During the occupation, the library remains open and delivers books to soldiers. After Odile learns that her friend Margaret has become enamored with Felix, a Nazi soldier, she tells her fiancé, Paul, a policeman, of Margaret’s folly, and is shocked when Paul beats Margaret, leading Odile to leave and volunteer at the American Hospital. Charles then skips forward to 1983 Froid, Mont., where seventh-grader Lily befriends her widowed neighbor Odile Gustafson, who teaches her French and reveals secrets about her life in Paris. Their bond strengthens throughout Lily’s teenage years. Charles’s richly detailed plot incorporates historical figures from the American Library and highlights the perils of occupied Paris. Historical fiction fans will be drawn to the realistic narrative and the bond of friendship forged between a widow and a lonely young girl. Agent: Heather Jackson, Heather Jackson Literary. (Feb.)


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Odile Souchet lands her dream job at the American Library in Paris, much to the chagrin of her father, who thinks she should focus on finding a husband. But it is 1939, and soon she has bigger worries as Nazis occupy the city, and even the inimitable directress, Miss Reeder, cannot guarantee the safety of the library's books and patrons. Forty years later, in a small Montana town, Lily Jacobsen is curious about her quiet, elegant neighbor, and soon Odile Gustafson is giving her French lessons, and they're dreaming up their own library classification system. Chapters alternate between Odile in Paris, where readers get to know Boris, the Russian head librarian, eccentric patron Professor Cohen, and Odile's twin brother, Rémy, who enlists in the French army. In Montana, Lily relies on Odile for guidance through family and friend trouble, though she senses Odile is keeping a secret. Charles brings her experience working at the American Library in Paris to this novel inspired by real people, that is a love letter to Paris, the power of books, and the beauty of intergenerational friendship.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

It's 1939 when Odile gets her dream job as a librarian at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis move in to occupy France, the library is allowed to stay open. Odile, along with a small band of librarians, patrons, and volunteers, form a secret resistance that includes hiding forbidden titles and delivering books to banished Jewish patrons. Despite the horrors of war, the library is the constant that keeps her going. In 1983 in a small Montana town, 12-year-old Lily uses a school report as an excuse to meet her mysterious French neighbor. The older woman helps Lily through her tumultuous teen years, offering books, advice, and refuge. In Charles's second novel (after Moonlight in Odessa), Odile is a complex character, both brave and childish. She can be unforgiving and impetuous as she watches the war make good people do bad things. Through her interactions with Lily, her regrets and the one betrayal for which she cannot forgive herself are revealed.VERDICT Plan for extra copies, as this tale has all the hallmarks of a book club pick. [See "Seasonal Selections," LJ 2/20.]—Vicki Briner, Broomfield, CO


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

World War II Paris during the German occupation forms the setting for an intelligent and sensuously rich novel of a young woman's coming-of-age. In 1939, Odile Souchet, the daughter of the captain of a police precinct, has just finished library school. She lands her dream job assisting patrons of the American Library, which serves both foreigners and Parisians, and falls in love with one of the police officers her father brings home for dinner. As the war proceeds and the Nazis take over the city, she fears for her twin brother, who has been captured by the Germans, places herself in danger by transporting books to Jewish patrons who are forbidden to visit the library, and begins to question some of her boyfriend's actions. Her story is juxtaposed with that of a teenager named Lily who, in 1983, lives in a small rural town in Montana. When Lily's mother becomes ill, Lily grows close to her previously frosty next-door neighbor Odile, who moved to Montana as a bride immediately after the war ended. While the chapters featuring Lily are snappy and often amusing, especially as she begins to adopt Parisian airs, they play a distinctly secondary role to those concerning Odile's life during the war. Structurally, the novel sometimes sags: Charles tends to move into the points of view of secondary characters, which leads to some repetition. But the author has a clear affection for both Paris and the American Library, where she worked as a programs manager in 2010, and she integrates the stories of many of the real-life employees and patrons of the library into the story with finesse, earning the novel its own place in the pantheon of World War II fiction. A novel tailor-made for those who cherish books and libraries. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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