3 star, adult

Review: The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

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.


“We all have a book that changed us forever,” I said. “One that let us know that we’re not alone. What’s yours?”

The Paris Library lived up to its name, bringing bursts of sympathy and wonder in equal measures. With a deep look into Odile’s past during the Nazi Occupation in Paris and her current life in the States, the biggest question one can ask is, how do the two points in her life connect?

I came in thinking this was going to be equal, alternating POVs between Lily and Odile, but it definitely focuses on Odile a lot more in the past. Lily’s story fills in the gaps and gives us glimpses into who Odile somehow becomes while pieces of the puzzle are still missing. I will start off by saying that I docked off stars because it does get slow in the middle at times, and the flow doesn’t always propel me to flip through the book as fast as possible. It meanders and lets us laze in the pages like we are going out on a stroll or browsing aimlessly in a library. But this is the only reason why it’s anything less than 5 stars, let me tell you.

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