Real book lovers love to read books about bookstores. Make it a bookstore in Paris and that is even better! I have read several bookstore in Paris books. They usually follow a similar plot – confused woman somehow ends up owning a bookstore in Paris and her life changes – typically because of a wild romance with a wonderful Frenchman. Paris by the Book by Liam Callanan may be about a bookstore in Paris, but the plot is unique.
Leah has lost her husband. That is what she tell everybody in Paris. They assume she means he is dead. In truth, he disappeared one day (back in Wisconsin), and she has no idea if he is dead or alive. She has moved to Paris, with her two teenage daughters, because going to Paris was a huge dream they had shared. All three of them are secretly “looking” for him as they build a life in their new city.
The book moves on as part mystery (is her husband dead or alive) and part family story (how Leah is raising her girls, how Leah and her husband met and their various struggles over the course of their marriage). Woven throughout the book is Leah’s love for The Red Balloon (book preferred over the movie) and the rest of her family’s love for Madeline (as in “twelve little girls in two straight lines”).
The story is well-written and I enjoyed it more than his last book The Cloud Atlas (which is often confused with the better known Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.)