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The Paris Library

The Paris Library

A Novel

eBook - 2021
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8
Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife . Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal. Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor's mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them. A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors— The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.
Publisher: [Place of publication not identified] : Atria Books, 2021
ISBN: 9781982134211
Branch Call Number: EBOOK
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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m
maipenrai
Mar 26, 2021

"Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris" I hope the facts about the American library have been fact checked as there are glaring errors about WWII. One example: When new of the Pearl Harbor attack is broadcast in Paris. A character asks the questions "Where is Pearl Harbor" "What does kamikaze mean?" Kamikaze flights were a strategy that had pilots crash their planes into American warships - they were suicide missions, They were not used until 1944 near end of WWII when Japan became desperate. The Japanese used dive bombing planes in the Pearl Harbor attack, but no suicide planes were dispatched to crash into the ships. They were distressingly effective without them. When there are errors in historical fact, this undermines faith in the rest of the book..... Toward the end of World War I, when the United States entered the conflict, hundreds of American libraries launched the Library War Service, a massive project to send books to the troops fighting in Europe. By the Armistice, nearly a million and a half books had been sent across the Atlantic to soldiers. Originally known as the American Library Association’s Service for the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during World War I, the American Library in Paris was formally incorporated in 1920 with a core collection of those wartime books. The outbreak of World War II, and the subsequent German Occupation of France, made it difficult for the Library to continue to provide its services to the population of Paris, especially to French Jews. In spite of the difficult times, the Library did not ultimately close its doors. Under the leadership of director Dorothy M. Reeder, and later through the efforts of the Comtesse de Chambrun, the Library remained active in various capacities throughout the war. I found the book ultimately very interesting. I liked the characters and the story line. Recommend. Kristi & Abby Tabby

m
maipenrai
Mar 26, 2021

"Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris" I hope the facts about the American library have been fact checked as there are glaring errors about WWII. One example: When new of the Pearl Harbor attack is broadcast in Paris. A character asks the questions "Where is Pearl Harbor" "What does kamikaze mean?" Kamikaze flights were a strategy that had pilots crash their planes into American warships - they were suicide missions, They were not used until 1944 near end of WWII when Japan became desperate. The Japanese used dive bombing planes in the Pearl Harbor attack, but no suicide planes were dispatched to crash into the ships. They were distressingly effective without them. When there are errors in historical fact, this undermines faith in the rest of the book..... Toward the end of World War I, when the United States entered the conflict, hundreds of American libraries launched the Library War Service, a massive project to send books to the troops fighting in Europe. By the Armistice, nearly a million and a half books had been sent across the Atlantic to soldiers. Originally known as the American Library Association’s Service for the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during World War I, the American Library in Paris was formally incorporated in 1920 with a core collection of those wartime books. The outbreak of World War II, and the subsequent German Occupation of France, made it difficult for the Library to continue to provide its services to the population of Paris, especially to French Jews. In spite of the difficult times, the Library did not ultimately close its doors. Under the leadership of director Dorothy M. Reeder, and later through the efforts of the Comtesse de Chambrun, the Library remained active in various capacities throughout the war. I found the book ultimately very interesting. I liked the characters and the story line. Recommend. Kristi & Abby Tabby

LCPL_Vivian Mar 25, 2021

The Paris Library is a historical fiction story based around the American Library in Paris, which is still up and running today. The community and family dynamics were interesting, but the story didn't pique my interest. I'd suggest it if you're looking for a beautifully written book, but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it.

b
betsymarzoni
Mar 24, 2021

An engrossing book about actual people who worked at or frequented the actual American Library in Paris (which is still in operation) just before, during, and after the Nazi occupation during World War II, this is another testament to the librarians who share their love of books and are dedicated to their "subscribers". The story is narrated by a fictional character, Odile, as she navigates her way to adulthood under trying circumstances and real dangers. There is some bouncing between Odile's life in Paris and her later years when she resides in Froid, Montana and becomes a guide for another teenager, Lily, who is dealing with her mother's death, her father's remarriage, and the usual tribulations of teenage years. The novel is heavily researched, compelling, and the action in Paris reminds us how so many people can impact our world. To quote Charles, "language is the gate that we can open and close on people".

t
Tica77
Mar 13, 2021

I love books on World War II, especially ones that focus on little known persons, places or events. This is the case with this book which is set mostly at the American Library in Paris, a library which still exists today. The storyline teeters between war-time and Froid, Montana in the eighties. Lily, a young teenagers, befriends her neighbor Odile, a mysterious woman whose role with the French resistance is revealed in an interesting tale. As a young librarian, Odile becomes very attached to her co-workers as all of them do everything in their power to keep the American library while bringing books to those who were banned from setting foot there. Based on actual persons. Well written and quick to read.

b
brangwinn
Feb 09, 2021

I wish I had read the author’s notes first so I would have understood that many of the characters were real and courageous champions of reading. Told in alternating chapters, we first meet Odile, who gets her dream job in the American Library of Paris (ALP). Her father, police captain, keeps trying to match her with policemen in his force and finally succeeds in a match when Odile is attracted to Paul, who approves of her independent spirit. And then the Nazis occupy Paris and life changes. Moving to a small town in Montana in 1988, teenaged Lily befriends her elderly neighbor, Odile who helps her through the maze of her mother’s death, her father’s remarriage, and the insecurities of adolescence. Moving back and forth in time, the reader will cheer for the inner strength of characters and the determination of library staff to save the library. Reader will also come to understand the compromises Paris citizens had to make to survive.

d
darladoodles
Feb 03, 2021

Odile seems to be just a reclusive old lady living next door. Lily is in junior high and has not interest in getting to know her until her family is in crisis. Told in dual storylines from WW II and the mid-1980's, this story of two women and the way their lives intersect is told with stellar timing. Both believe in their own way that their world is a certain way and are determined to break out. What neither one realizes is the part others in their circles play in their story. I picked this book up, because of the library angle and it did not disappoint. Libraries all over the world have many similar tales to tell and it was easy to see some parallels between a library during wartime and a library in the midst of a pandemic.

What I found most compelling about this book were some of the little things that were really much more important later: the red belt, birds (crows, robins, etc.), those anonymous notes that seem to grow in weight as the book continues, leeks vs. rutabags, and more. Finally a word about books like this that give us a glimpse of those who may not have been on the "heroes" list once the Paris occupation was done. Many books tell the stories of those who did extraordinary things, but there were also everyday people who may have made mistakes. They may not have grasped the opportunity for greatness when it was in front of them. (A good read alike that explores themes like this is 'Paris Never Leaves You' by Ellen Feldman.) We deal with it now. Decisions which may seem small like wearing a mask, getting a vaccine, voting for a particular candidate, not buying goods 'Made In China,' etc. may be much more significant when we look back on them in the rearview mirror. As Janet Skeslien Charles so wisely points out in her notes at the end of the book, what is more important is to 'treat people with dignity and compassion.'

c
carolefort
Jun 11, 2020

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles is a memorable account of life during World War II in Paris after the German invasion. In 1939 Odile is thrilled to be hired at the American Library in Paris (ALP). Her love of the written word soon makes her an important and respected member of staff. As the German soldiers take control, the library is in danger of being closed permanently, like so many others. This is the story of how library staff coped with years of foreign dominance while serving their subscribers. They were years of hardship, fear, terror, prejudice and survival of the human spirit. But it was also a time of love, friendship and kindness. These are the heroic lives of the librarians during a terrible time. To this day, the American Library in Paris is still thriving, in part due to these courageous people. This is a well-researched and fascinating look at the dedication needed to stand against the Nazis and save an important and beloved library. The author worked at the ALP in 2010, which accounts for the atmospheric retelling. Highly recommended. Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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