Thursday, January 13, 2022

Review: The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher

The Paris Bookseller
by Kerri Maher

Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  When bookish young American Sylvia Beach opens Shakespeare and Company on a quiet street in Paris in 1919, she has no idea that she and her new bookstore will change the course of literature itself.

Shakespeare and Company is more than a bookstore and lending library: Many of the prominent writers of the Lost Generation, like Ernest Hemingway, consider it a second home. It's where some of the most important literary friendships of the twentieth century are forged--none more so than the one between Irish writer James Joyce and Sylvia herself. When Joyce's controversial novel Ulysses is banned, Beach takes a massive risk and publishes it under the auspices of Shakespeare and Company.

But the success and notoriety of publishing the most infamous and influential book of the century comes with steep costs. The future of her beloved store itself is threatened when Ulysses' success brings other publishers to woo Joyce away. Her most cherished relationships are put to the test as Paris is plunged deeper into the Depression and many expatriate friends return to America. As she faces painful personal and financial crises, Sylvia--a woman who has made it her mission to honor the life-changing impact of books--must decide what Shakespeare and Company truly means to her.

Kritters Thoughts:  A piece of fiction that goes behind the scenes of the bookstore, lending library and publishing company that became famous of its own right as a destination for readers and writers - Shakespeare and Company.  Sylvia Beach was an American living in Paris and found her calling in opening an English speaking bookstore where writers can take refuge and maybe even get a little inspiration.  

I peaked at the author's note before I started reading and knew that the author tried to keep the book close to fact and with that it is hard to review a bit.  Sylvia Beach was an interesting character to follow and I was glad to have the context of the gay community at the time in Paris because I had no idea how accepted it was compared to the US.  It was fun to read about the community that surrounded this bookstore and I loved the casual name drops of authors who became famous and reading about them before their names were recognizable!

I liked this book, but didn't love it.  I am not sure exactly what it is, but maybe I had a big expectation of what I wanted from this book, but it was good not great.  I would love to read another story about this bookstore from the perspective of one of the authors who found a welcoming space in this store from the time where they were writing a book near the store.  

Rating: enjoyable, but didn't leave me wanting more

Ebook 2022 Challenge: 1 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Berkley.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

1 comment :

  1. I thought it sucked. I couldn't get past four chapters and even that was a struggle. I'm a fan of books about Paris in the 1920s--good books, that it. It doesn't matter if they are novels or nonfiction. I've taken a course about American ex-patriates in Paris during the Twenties, and naturally Sylvia Beach's name came up. I was interested in learning more about her, but I found the lesbian love story objectionable. It could have been portrayed with more finesse while still remaining truthful. This book has Sylvia practically drooling every time she is in the presence of Adrienne Monnier, a young woman who owns or co-owns a bookstore that inspires Sylvia to open a store of her own.

    If readers want a romance novel that incidentally features real historical figures, that's fine. But I'd rather read a historical account that doesn't dwell so much on the romance between the characters.

    Rating: Yuck

    If you are looking for a good historical fiction novel about Paris, read "The Paris Library" by Janet Skeskien Charles.
    It's set during the late 1930s and World War II era, and I thought it was great.


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