READERS GUIDEMonsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared more than twenty years ago. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.
After a new and intriguing acquaintance finally convinces Perdu to read the letter, he abruptly hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself. Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives.
NINA GEORGE works as a journalist, writer, and storytelling teacher. She is the award winning author of 26 books, and also writes feature articles, short stories, and columns. The Little Paris Bookshop spent over a year on bestseller lists in Germany, and was a bestseller in the US, the UK, Australia, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands. George is married to the writer Jens J. Kramer and lives in Berlin and in Brittany, France. For more information on The Little Paris Bookshop, visit http://bookapothecary.com, and to learn more about Nina George, visit www.nina-george.com.
Please note: In order to provide reading groups with the most informed and thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessary to reveal important aspects of the plot of this novel—as well as the ending. If you have not finished reading THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP, we respectfully suggest that you wait before reviewing this guide.
1. “Memories are like wolves. You can’t lock them away and hope they leave you alone.” The Little Paris Bookshop begins when Monsieur Perdu opens the room he’s kept sealed off for two decades. What are your first impressions of Perdu, and do you think he’s justified in shutting out the past?
2. “Perdu reflected that it was a common misconception that booksellers looked after books. They looked after people.” Monsieur Perdu helps countless people find books that heal them. In your life, have you ever felt that a book restored you to yourself? If there was a Literary Apothecary where you lived, would you visit?
3. In Chapter 3, Perdu refuses to sell a copy of Max Jordan’s Night to a customer, because he feels it would upset her. How would you react if this happened to you? Is there such thing as a dangerous book?
4. On their journey South, Perdu forges a powerful friendship with both Max and Cuneo. What do the three characters teach each other?
5. The death of the deer is an emotionally charged scene that serves to ignite something within Perdu. What do you think it represented for the three men?
6. We come to know Manon through Perdu’s account of her, and her travel diary. What did you think of her as a character? Do you believe it is possible to love more than one person at once, as she does?
7. In Chapter 32, Samy says there are three kinds of love: sexual love, logical love, and a love that “comes from your chest or your solar plexus, or somewhere in between.” What do you think she means by this, and do you agree?
8. The time to mourn, or “hurting time,” becomes important for nearly every character in The Little Paris Bookshop. Do you believe a period of grieving is necessary when a loved one is lost? Does it depend on the circumstances in which they left your life?
9. Perdu finally arrives in Bonnieux, where he asks Manon’s husband Luc for forgiveness. Does Luc provide Perdu with the sense of closure he lacks? Does Perdu offer anything to Luc?
10. The text that is perhaps most vital to Perdu’s emotional journey is Sanary’s Southern Lights. Were you surprised to discover the author’s true identity? Why or why not?
11. The novel includes pages from Manon’s journal, letters between Perdu and Catherine, recipes, and a reading list. Did these artifacts make your reading experience a richer one?
12. Love and friendship, the power of stories to heal—of these, what do you think this novel is most about?
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