On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop - or, rather, a 'literary apothecary', for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers. The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself.
He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust - until now.
The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop, and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.
"Nina George tells us clever things about love, about literature that 'puts a bounce in your step', about tango in Provence. One of those books that gets you thinking about whom you must give it to as a gift even while you're still reading it, because it makes you happy, and should be part of any well-stocked apothecary." (Hamburg Morning Post)
"The feelgood story." (Grazia Germany)
"Enchanting and moving.... Rarely have I read such a beautiful book!" (Tina Magazine)
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Who can't love Paris, a bookstore, and canal barge
The descriptions of the characters and the scenery being travelled on the barge
It's just a gentle, relaxing story that allows your imagination to wander through beautiful scenery.
I really loved Ray's performance and can't associate with the review who described it as monotonous - he created beautiful, sensitive characters and brought the scenery very much alive.
I enjoyed it very much and got involved with each of the characters - but unfortunately, Manon grated with me as my view is she was a selfish, self-centred person and so I struggled embracing the emotions the author wanted her readers to do.
I'm reviewing this to balance some of the other reviews I read before purchasing. Firstly, I found the narration to be excellent - bringing character to each of the individuals in the book, bringing to life all the beautiful scenery and not in any way monotonous. I also didn't find anything predictable about the story (in fact, the old cliche twist that I was dreading didn't happen and I was very glad about that). The comments about this being written by a woman with men appearing as a woman would idealise them to be, I also couldn't associate with - firstly, it should be remembered these are Frenchmen not Englishmen! :o) I think anyone who would enjoy hearing about a small Parisian community, a narrow boat book store moored on the Seine and a group of people who then travel through the French canals and river systems would enjoy this book. I wished I'd travelled more in France to be able to picture their journey - I could certainly picture exactly where I would moor the barge on the Seine in Paris! It also left m feeling I would love to travel France's canals. So why only four stars? Just because Manon - one of the main characters - grated with me. I have thought about was that due to poor characterisation and I don't feel it is - she is probably more human than other characters in other books where romance is involved. But it grated someone so selfish and manipulative in my opinion, became this venerated character. Maybe, therefore, why it should be five stars ...because the character is flawed and human, and therefore the story very well written ;o)
- E. A. Williams