Fans of The Tatooist of Auschwitz, The Nightingale, All the Light We Cannot See, The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society and even The Library, will enjoy the deep friendships forged here
THE PARIS LIBRARY
by Janet Skeslien Charles
Current bids in US, UK and Italy
Offers in for Holland, Spain, Germany and Romania
Paris, 1939. Odile Souchet is obsessed with books and the Dewey Decimal System, which makes order out of chaos. She soon has it all – a handsome police officer beau, an English best friend, a beloved twin, and a job at the American Library in Paris, a thriving community of students, writers, diplomats, and book lovers. Yet when war is declared, there’s also a war on words. Montana, 1983. Widowed and alone, Odile suffers the solitary confinement of small-town life. Though most adults are cowed by her, the neighbor girl will not let her be. Lily, a lonely teenager yearning to break free of Froid is obsessed by the older French woman who lives next door and wants to know her secrets. As the two become friends, Odile sees herself in Lily – the same love of language, the same longings, the same lethal jealousy. The Paris Library’s dual narratives explore the relationships that make us who we are – family and friends, first loves and favorite authors – in the fairy tale setting of the City of Light. It also explores the geography of resentment, the consequences of unspeakable betrayal, and what happens when the people we count on for understanding and protection fail us. The wit, empathy, and deep research that brings The Paris Library to life also brings to light a cast of lively historical characters and a little-known chapter of World War II history: the story of the American librarian, Miss Reeder, who created the Soldiers’ Service to deliver books to servicemen, and who later faced the Nazi ‘Book Protector’ in order to keep her library open. She and her colleagues defied the Bibliotheksschutz by delivering books to Jewish readers after they were forbidden from entering the library.
The American Library in Paris is the largest English-speaking library on the European continent. The Library has 4,000 members representing 60 countries. The ALP will celebrate its centennial in 2020, which is the perfect opportunity for tie-in media about the book. Edith Wharton was one of its first trustees. Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein wrote articles for Ex-Libris, the Library’s literary journal. Henry Miller and Colette gave readings there. Recent speakers include Jacqueline Woodson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Lan Samantha Chang, and Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Janet Skeslien Charles is an award-winning writer with a decade’s worth of roaming Paris’s streets and researching in its libraries. Her novel Moonlight in Odessa (Bloomsbury UK/US, 2009), about the booming business of email-order brides, was published in 10 languages. It won the Melissa Nathan award in London and the Complètement Livre prize in Strasbourg. It received stunning reviews in the Times of London, The Guardian, New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus, Bookpage, Bust and more. Janet’s shorter work has appeared in revues such as Slice and Montana Noir. She is originally from Montana and growing up, she lived on the same street as a French war bride; Janet began to research The Paris Library when she worked at the American Library in Paris from 2010 to 2012. As the Programs Manager, she organized the weekly Evenings with an Author series, which featured writers such as Lionel Shriver, Tatiana de Rosnay, Jake Lamar, and Richard Russo. She also coordinated six book clubs, maintained social media accounts, created publicity material, and cowrote Ex-Libris, the Library newsletter. Currently, she teaches at Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, France.