Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Little Bookshop on the Seine

Title:  The Little Bookshop on the Seine
Author:  Rebecca Raisin
Publication Information:  HQN. 2020. 288 pages.
ISBN:  1335050272 / 978-1335050274

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "With a heavy heart I placed the sign in the display window."

Favorite Quote:  "My life is too lonely without fictional people crowding my mind."

Paris and bookshops - I am sold based on the cover and title alone. I love books about books and bookshops. Setting it in Paris makes it all the more charming. That being said, the book has to deliver on character and story otherwise the initial charm wears off fast.

Initially, I am not too sure about this one. The book begins with a woman's physical longing ... and descriptions thereof ... for her boyfriend named Ridge. Boyfriends named Ridge and straight up romances, particularly those with physical descriptions are not my reading material of choice. Fortunately, this book retains the romance without too much physicality and also manages to turn into a story beyond the romance. The book delivers with a sweet story about a woman finding herself, about friendship, and also about love all centered around Once Upon a Time, a bookshop in Paris.

Sarah Smith runs a bookshop in Ashford, Connecticut. The shop is not doing well. Sarah finds herself often alone, as her boyfriend's job as a journalist calls for him to travel around the world. Although surrounded by a loving family and wonderful friends, Sarah longs for something more. "I'm tired of being the same person, half-living, all this waiting for something to happen ... I have to make it happen."

It just so happens that Sarah's friend Sophie owns and runs a bookshop in Paris. For her own reasons, Sophie needs to get away. She proposes a temporary bookshop exchange. Sophie goes to Connecticut and runs Sarah's shop. Sarah's goes to Paris and runs Sophie. Before she has a chance to over think it, Sarah says yes.

The bookshop in Paris brings, of course, the city itself. It also brings its own cast of characters. Each character comes with their own baggage of the past - family attachments, betrayals, career aspirations, hopes, dreams, and fears. Some become instant friends, and some pose more of a challenge.

The biggest challenge for Sarah is finding her own voice - to run the bookshop and establish her authority, to express her feelings on her boyfriend's choices, and, most importantly, to learn for herself that she has the skill and confidence to tackle anything that comes her way. "Paris swept us up, and made us whole, may we never wander alone no matter where we are."

 Of course, there is a romance or two or three in the mix as well. After all, that is to be expected. What is unexpected is that the book and the romances do not quite end up where I expect. Don't get me wrong, the ending still ties everything up in a nice, neat package as you might expect. However, it does not all tie up in the way I expect. No spoilers but the author Q&A below does give a hint. To me, the unexpected adds a depth and dimension to the book that take it beyond just a sweet, feel good story of a woman finding love in Paris.


The Little Bookshop on the Seine
Blog Tour

Author: Rebecca Raisin 

ISBN: 9781335012500
Publication Date: 1/7/2020
Publisher: HQN Books

Author Bio:

Rebecca Raisin is the author of several novels, including the beloved Little Paris series and the Gingerbread Café trilogy, and her short stories have been published in various anthologies and fiction magazines.

Author Q&A:

Q: Have you ever been to Paris? If so, what are some of your favorite Parisian things?
A: I’ve been lucky enough to go Paris four times and do a bit of exploring for the books. It’s my favourite city in the world and if I could up and move I’d do it! I love the bookshops of Paris, particularly the secondhand shops that are dusty and musty and disorderly. You never know what you’ll find and that makes it magical. If you’re in Paris find the Abbey Bookshop, it’s full to bursting with English books and it’s a treasure trove if you have time to hunt! I also love French food - who doesn’t?! My favourite place to eat is the Christian Constant bistros. He has one for every budget and they’re all glorious. If you splurge once, I highly recommend it’s there. 

The Ritz is also a must-see, from Bar Hemingway to Salon Proust, it’s an experience like no other walking in the footsteps of those literary greats. Buly 1803 is the most beautiful perfume shop in all the world, it’s like stepping back in time. My favourite is the rose oil… ooh la la. And holding a special place in my heart is Point Zero Paris, the exact centre of the city and a place where magic happens - you’ll have to read the book to find out more...

Q: What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
A: I hope you do something reckless, something that scares you, jump out of that comfort zone and do that thing you’ve always dreamed of! What’s stopping you - fear, money, work, life? You can make it happen if only you take the plunge! Open yourself to new experiences and people and don't take the taxi, walk until your feet are numb and find those lost laneways and hidden alleys and see what you find! 

Q: What drew you into this particular genre?
A: I love love, but Little Bookshop is also about another kind of love, the love of a place, or a feeling...writing this genre leaves it open to interpretation and anything goes as long you tie it all up at the end in a satisfying way! 

Q: If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
A: I’d sit down with bookworm Sarah and ask her what she really thought of Luiz… I am still conflicted about that thread and what I could have done but didn’t!

Q: What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
A: I’m currently editing Aria’s Travelling Bookshop, which is about a Van Lifer who sells her wares as she explores France! (Are you detecting a pattern here!?) It’s the follow up to Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop, which was released last March. Both books are about a different way of living, about having less but gaining more as you go. I’ve loved writing Rosie and Aria!


Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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