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The Paris Library: A Novel (Hardcover)
February 2021 Indie Next List
“I can’t think of a more perfect novel to recommend to book lovers than The Paris Library! Not only does it bring to life the true story of the heroic librarians of the American Library in Nazi-occupied Paris, its interwoven narrative of a bereft teenager in 1980s Montana who finds a kindred spirit in her mysterious, reclusive, and book-loving French neighbor is a feat of extraordinary storytelling. The Paris Library is a testament to the everlasting power of literature and literary places to bring people together and be a home for everyone, even during our darkest, most hopeless, and divided times.”
— Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books, Beverly, MA
Instant New York Times bestseller
USA TODAY and Washington Post bestseller
LibraryReads Pick and named a Most Anticipated Book of the Year by Library Journal and Goodreads
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.
About the Author
Janet Skeslien Charles is the award-winning author of Moonlight in Odessa, which was published in ten languages. Her shorter work has appeared in revues such as Slice and Montana Noir. Janet first became interested in the incredible true story of the librarians who stood up to the Nazi “Book Protector” when she worked as the program’s manager at the American Library in Paris. Her novel The Paris Library will be published in seventeen countries. She divides her time between Montana and Paris. Visit her at JSkeslienCharles.com or connect with her on Twitter @skesliencharles.
“As a Parisian, an ardent bookworm, and a longtime fan of the American Library in Paris, I devoured The Paris Library in one hungry gulp. It is charming and moving, with a perfect balance between history and fiction.”
— Tatiana de Rosnay, New York Times bestselling author of Sarah's Key
“A fresh take on WWII France that will appeal to bibliophiles everywhere. I fell in love with Odile and Lily, with their struggles and triumphs, from the very first page. Meticulously researched, The Paris Library is an irresistible, compelling read.”
— Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Chelsea Girls
“The Paris Library is a refreshing novel that celebrates libraries as cradles of community, especially when we need them the most. It shows how literature can be a means of escape, a catalyst for human connection, and a moral center in grim times. A thoroughly enjoyable read, kind-hearted and brimming with delightful bookish allusions.”
— Matthew Sullivan, author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
"Having lived in an apartment just above the current location of the American Library in Paris, I've always felt connected to the institution and wondered about its story, so I'm grateful to Janet Skeslien Charles for penning such a vivid, enjoyable, based-on-a-true-story tale. In THE PARIS LIBRARY, the beloved library, its staff, and its subscribers come to life and remind us of both the horrors of World War II and the vital role books play in keeping us afloat in difficult times. Well-researched, stirring, and rich with detail, THE PARIS LIBRARY is an ode to the importance of libraries, books, and the human connections we find within both."
— Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names
“What makes The Paris Library such a tender read is Charles's firsthand experience… Her meticulous research brings these figures to life…. Together the true storylines provide wonderful insight into relationships and friendships that transcend time and place.”
"Intelligent and sensuously rich....A novel tailor-made for those who cherish books and libraries."
— Kirkus Reviews
"A love letter to Paris, the power of books, and the beauty of intergenerational friendship."
"Delightful...richly detailed...Historical fiction fans will be drawn to the realistic narrative and the bond of friendship forged between a widow and a lonely young girl."
— Publishers Weekly
"Well-plotted and richly populated."
— New York Journal of Books
"A book about families torn apart, friends lost and found, fear, hope, inspiration, and books and a love of reading. Bravo to Janet Skeslien Charles."
— The Free Lance-Star