The Paris Library: A Novel (Paperback)
In two different voices, we learn the story of the American Library in Paris during the occupation. Odile is thrilled to have a job there among the treasured stacks. Her police commissar father is less than happy. Her twin brother Remy cherishes the new connection, especially the children's librarian Bitzi. But as war approaches, the closeness and camaraderie is split apart. The alternating story is told by Lily, a young girl in Froid, Montana during the 1980's. She must write a report about something distant so she decides to interview the prickly French widow next door. There the friendship begins and their life journeys intertwine.— Valerie
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
An instant New York Times, Washington Post, and USA TODAY bestseller—based on the true story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris during World War II—The Paris Library is a moving and unforgettable “ode to the importance of libraries, books, and the human connections we find within both” (Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author).
Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet seems to have the perfect life with her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into the city, 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 love letter to Paris, the power of books, and the beauty of intergenerational friendship” (Booklist), The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest 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 thirty 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
"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