Monsieur Jean Perdu, a unique bookseller, fifty years of age and lovelorn, lives in an apartment whose tenants are diverse and in some cases rather eccentric. The bookshop or more specifically “The Literary Apothecary” is situated on a barge , moored on the Seine, and Monsieur Perdu’s main purpose is to sell reader-appropriate books to his customers, his philosophy clearly explained in this quote; “Whenever Monsieur Perdu looked at a book, he did not see it purely in terms of a story, a retail price and an essential balm for the soul; he saw freedom on wings of paper.”
To heal his own spirit was more difficult as he has refused to open the letter left by his love when she walked away twenty-someyears ago. The arrival of a new tenant leads to a breakthrough, and the opening of the letter sets in motion a new direction. The barge is unmoored; Ms. Perdu, Catherine, a shy author and one person with chef-skills begin a journey down through the canals to Provence to seek the love he lost so long ago.
Nina George writes beautifully, engaging the reader completely in the lives of her characters. As the pages are turned there is a time for crying, a time for laughter and for the enjoyment of good food. A section at the end contains recipes and essentially “Jean Perdu’s Emergency Literary Pharmacy.”
A wonderfully enthralling read, with many delightful quotes which space does not allow. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Isabel Weenink