Just when I think no one (including myself) is paying attention to Thoughts From The Back, some loyal reader questions why I haven’t posted about the book I reportedly finished. Ah, accountability…that’s what it’s all about folks.
For Mother’s Day, D#2 visited her college town for the first time since moving out post-graduation and left me with her sweet, but demanding dog. This all-important holiday was salvaged when she reclaimed her pooch and brought me gifts from Left Bank Books, our favorite St. Louis bookstore.
Paris By The Book by Liam Callanan was a perfect choice to start off the summer reading season. Here’s my quickie Goodreads review:
South of Broad by Pat Conroy was described as a love letter to Charleston and The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabriella Zevin as a love letter to bookstores. Paris By The Book is a love letter to Paris, bookstores, books and family. And with all that, Callanan pulls if off with an engaging story. Very enjoyable.
Leah and Robert Eady met and fell in love because of books, specifically two children’s books set in Paris, The Red Balloon and Madeline. Leah is the quirky, snarky-voiced narrator of this novel and I was drawn to her immediately. There is one rule in their marriage, novelist Robert is allowed to go off by himself anytime he feels the need, as long as he leaves a note. One day he leaves, without a note, and he doesn’t return. Leah and her two teen-ish daughters end up in Paris, in a bookstore, perhaps looking for Robert, definitely looking for a way thru their grief and into their futures.
It’s a love story and a mystery told with lots of humor. The very realistic mother-daughter and sibling dynamics keep the somewhat far-fetched story grounded. If you love books and bookstores, this is a book for you. If you also love Paris (I’m looking at you maisouiparis), this is a must read. Mid-way thru the book, Leah (and Callanan) explains why books are so important to her, ending with this paragraph:
I’ve never told the girls this, but one reason I like our geo-organizing of the store is that it reminds me of Robert’s and my adventures across Wisconsin, the ability to travel such distances – from Moscow to Cuba – in hardly any time at all. But what I also liked of those cities, of every last one of our books, is the hope buried deep within them. Paris, France – or Paris, New York – didn’t work out? That’s fine. Try Paris, Wisconsin. Such hope is resilient; every town, every book, is a way to say, look, there’s a new way, a different way. Every book in a bookstore is a fresh beginning. Every book is the next iteration of a very old story. Every bookstore, therefore, is like a safe-deposit box for civilization.