Paris by the Book by Liam Callanan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Disclaimer: As a member of NetGalley, I received this galley in exchange for an honest review.
Part 1: From The Book Cover
A missing person, a grieving family, a curious clue: a half-finished manuscript set in Paris. Heading off in search of its author, a mother and her daughters find themselves in France, rescuing a failing bookstore and drawing closer to unexpected truths.
Once a week, I chase men who are not my husband….
When eccentric novelist Robert Eady abruptly vanishes, he leaves behind his wife, Leah, their daughters, and, hidden in an unexpected spot, plane tickets to Paris.
Hoping to uncover clues—and her husband—Leah sets off for France with her girls. Upon their arrival, she discovers an unfinished manuscript, one Robert had been writing without her knowledge…and that he had set in Paris. The Eady women follow the path of the manuscript to a small, floundering English-language bookstore whose weary proprietor is eager to sell. The whole store? Today? Yes, but Leah’s biggest surprise comes when she hears herself accepting the offer on the spot.
As the family settles into their new Parisian life, they can’t help but trace the literary paths of some beloved Parisian classics, including Madeline and The Red Balloon, hoping more clues arise. But a series of startling discoveries forces Leah to consider that she may not be ready for what solving this mystery might do to her family—and the Paris she thought she knew.
At once haunting and charming, Paris by the Book follows one woman’s journey as her story is being rewritten, exploring the power of family and the magic that hides within the pages of a book.
Part 2: Recommendation
I'm not exactly sure what possessed me to request a galley of this book. I'm guessing mainly because of the description and the fact that one of the characters is a writer and another, a bookseller. I have to say though that the author Liam Callanan writes beautiful prose that has a lyrical quality to it and it shows in this book. Unfortunately, for me at least, that is the only good point to this book.
Though the prose has that beautiful, lyrical quality to it, the pacing is extremely slow, it's not really what I would call a mystery and the meandering prose going back and forth between Milwaukee and Paris just about killed me to the point where I almost decided to not finish the book. But I did and wished I didn't waste any more of my time finishing this book because the characters, especially the wife, Leah, was quite annoying and a bit flat. The two daughters, Ellie and Daphne, also need more depth to them and I felt like Declan's character was placed there just to stir the pot a bit. Eleanor's character is okay in the sense that she's the most practical of them all though still a bit flat, and as for Robert Eady himself, well, I have to say that the little bit that I knew about him, I didn't truly like. He's selfish, self-centered and I've had enough of his drama.
Now, if you are a big fan of The Little Paris Bookshop and are hoping to get the same experience, stay away from this book because you will be sadly disappointed. However, if you want to read about what others think of The Red Balloon or about Madeline or about snippets of Lamorrisse' life and works as well as of Bemelman's then this might be worth your time.
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