Hi there! Thanks for reading with me if you did, and thanks for being here anyway if you didn't. This month's selection was The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. And now, on to the casual discussion. I'll start us off, but please jump in with comments below. [WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD]
Overall, I'd have to say I liked the story but had some problems with how it was told. I thought the story and writing were strongest when focused on Jean alone. And to be honest, I was way more interested in the relationship between Jean and Catherine than the one between Jean and Manon. I spent the bulk of the book waiting for the current love affair to resume, and at times I lost patience with both the Manon storyline and the secondary storylines. I do have to acknowledge, however, that I was rather distracted by world and national events during my reading--not that I want to open up a discussion of that here--and that probably really influenced my reactions. I read up to the part where Jean finally reads Manon's 20-year-old letter and thought the story was really strong and engaging. Then I put the book down for a couple of days and some horrifying things happened in the world in the meantime, and when I picked up the book again I didn't have the same amazed reaction to the storytelling I had had up to that point.
Sometimes the writing was distracting and a little on the hokey side for my taste, although I did chalk some of that up to the fact that I was reading in translation. A lot of the cheesier sentences--for example, "Oh, merciless freedom, you continue to overwhelm me!" from Manon's travel diary--would just work better in German than they do in English. I wasn't a fan of the Manon character in general, to be honest. Also, I knew as soon as we encountered the girl-mistaken-for-boy device that Victoria was Manon's daughter, but I do have to give the author props for not making Jean her father. That would have been too predictable for my taste.
To sum up, I think the main message of the book was--to paraphrase Anne Lamott--"You gotta feel the feelings, and they feel like shit." You'll get no argument from me on that score. I am glad to have read the book, but for me, the true measure of a book is whether I would re-read it, and I don't think I need to read this one again.
Tag, you're it! Let me know what you thought of it. And thanks for playing!