Originally published in: 2015 (here in the States)
What it’s about: A man who has been grieving (or not so much) his lost love for 20 years by shutting down part of himself and trying to forget, and his path back to life.
What made me pick it up: I had tried to read it once before but was expecting a bit of fluff centered around a female protagonist (for no particular reason) and when I encountered a male one I set it back down. Just couldn’t get into it. Then I got it as a gift for Christmas and gave myself a six-month deadline. Five months in, when I finally picked it up and gave it a try I was quite engaged and it went very quickly.
My favorite things: I absolutely didn’t expect this to fall near my category of grumpy old man books, but it really wasn’t far from it. In that sense it fit my bill. We follow Paris’s Literary Apothecary as he prescribes books for all of life’s ailments, except his own. But once he is force to confront his past loss he…. well, he runs away. Expect to fall wildly in love with the lush description of France’s cities and countryside. You’ll want to throw everything away and rush across the pond to also amble through. Along the way he meets fellow travelers hiding from their own lives and it becomes a tale of becoming, and friendship, and healing. Grief isn’t neat and tidy and its timeline is fluid. I adored how the author presented characters who were decades into their half lives and still solidly grieving. And of course, there are love stories, and tiny surprises, and a lot of forgiveness and compassion and new beginnings. This story will give you hope and do so with stories of the gentlest absurdity that is life. You’ll be thinking of this story long after you finish it.
Who it’s great for: Adults, especially those who feel like they got off track somewhere and are struggling to find the way back.
Find this book in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).
Originally published in: 2007
What it’s about: An orphaned boy living in a train station in Paris where he steals food to survive and takes care of the clocks.
What made me pick it up: Abby said it contained a lot illustrations so it was practically a graphic novel.
My favorite things: This book is like reading through a silent film. The illustrations are breathtaking, and rightly so, since this was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 2008 for illustrated work. I don’t think I’ve felt so strongly for a character since Harry Potter. Now this is no HP but there are a lot of similarities. It follows a boy on his own as he makes friends and works to solve a mystery before time runs out all while trying to protect his secrets. Magic might be involved. This was heartfelt and also very fun. Plus it flies by so the 533 pages are done in a blink. Seriously, I started this after work and was so drawn in I finished it in one sitting.
Who it’s great for: Readers of all ages. HP fans. Film buffs, especially from the early days of movies. Those looking for adventure.
Find this book in your local library or on Amazon(affiliate link).
Originally published in: 2016
What it’s about: A woman follows her grandmother’s death bed instructions and heads to Paris to try to figure out the mystery of a broken mask.
What made me pick it up: It was mentioned on a blog I follow. I read Blackwell’s first book The Paris Key and enjoyed it.
My favorite things: Aside from all the French details with which I’m obsessed? Blackwell has a great ability to build in twists to her story. Her characters are fully realized and she keeps the pages to this sweet story turning. She also does love stories really well. If you want a Nicholas Sparks story with a strong female protagonist set in France, pick up these books.
Who it’s great for: Those who like a bit of mystery in their fiction. Anyone who appreciates stories of women finding themselves and love in foreign places. Readers obsessed with Paris/France everything. Fans of Nicholas Sparks.
Find The Paris Key and Letters From Paris at Amazon (affiliate links) or your local library.
Originally published in: 2016
What it’s about: A man begins to grieve the loss of his wife from the 2015 Paris terror attacks.
What made me pick it up: It was short and I had read really positive reviews of it.
My favorite things: This story is as stunning as it is brief. Just 130 pages but you will cry your way through the author’s devastation on each one. I appreciate his excruciating honesty and the beautiful tribute he created for his wife.
Who it’s great for: Anyone who has lost a loved one unexpectedly. Those that want to face the world with hope instead of fear or anger. Fans of When Breath Becomes Air.