The Paris Library: A Novel (Hardcover)
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
The emotional power of this story makes it a page turner. Odile's life is altered in 1939 when the Nazis invade Paris and threaten to close the American Library where she works. Odile and the other librarians resist and smuggle books to patrons. At the end of the war she suffers an unspeakable betrayal.
— From The Paris Library By Janet Skeslien Charles
In the 1980s Odile helps a teenager Lily in Montana to overcome loneliness. Their shared love of language draws them together. A dark secret connects them. The themes of jealousy and enduring love taken from Their Eyes Were Watching God influence the message of this story.
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 Libraryshows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest places.
— 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
For anyone...who cherishes books."
“What makes The Paris Library such a tender read is Charles's firsthand experience… Her meticulous research brings these figures to life…. Together the true storylines provide wonderful insight into relationships and friendships that transcend time and place.”
"A descriptive and deeply intriguing piece of historical fiction that will pull on the heartstrings of all book lovers."
— Business Insider
"Captivating, richly drawn."
— Woman's World
"Well-plotted and richly populated."
— New York Journal of Books
"A book about families torn apart, friends lost and found, fear, hope, inspiration, and books and a love of reading. Bravo to Janet Skeslien Charles."
— The Free Lance-Star
"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