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The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher

The Paris Bookseller

by Kerri Maher

  • Critics' Consensus:
  • Published:
  • Jan 2022
    336 pages
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There are currently 33 member reviews
for The Paris Bookseller
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  • Mary S. (Bow, NH)
    C'est magnifique!
    This historical fiction novel ended too soon for this reader. It's a wonderful story that sweeps you up in the life of Sylvia Beach, owner and founder of Shakespeare & Co, a bookstore in Paris that sold books from the US and UK in English. (The current Shakespeare & Co in Paris is a different owner but opened as an homage to Beach's store).

    Intriguingly, the bookstore launch was in the heady Parisian artistic times between World War I and World War II. Shakespeare & Co was soon a regular haunt for people like Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and most notably, James Joyce. The friendship between Joyce and Beach soon turned into a business relationship as Beach was first to publish the Joyce masterpiece, Ulysses. What a feat it was to bring the book to publication and then to sell it (it was banned in the United States). As if this story line wasn't enough, there is another layer that is going on simultaneously. It focuses on the relationship between Beach and Adrienne Monnier, owner of the equally admired bookstore, La Maison des Amis des Livres.

    All of this is just a taste of what is waiting for you in this book. You should read it, you will not be disappointed.
  • Carole A. (Denver, CO)
    The thing about historical fiction...
    Historical fiction, Paris, bookstores or books appearing in a title or description are enough to lead me to open the cover and read. The thing about historical fiction is the upward learning curve and the myriad of paths you can follow. THE PARIS BOOKSELLER, is actually set in the 20s in the famed Paris bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, that was the center of life for Americans in Paris as well as several of our most beloved authors. The heartbeat of the store, the bookseller, was Sylvia Beach of literary fame. There are many paths one can follow through this book. There are often fresh insights into the authors, publishing and life both in Paris and America that are illuminating and leave you wanting to re-read favorites or pursue those never before read.

    A wonderful read for book clubs, those who enjoy history books and all those simply wanting a good read.
  • Dorinne D. (Wickenburg, AZ)
    A Book for Bookworms
    A historical novel after my own heart, "The Paris Bookseller" is an intriguing story of one of the most famous bookstores in the world, Shakespeare and Company, in Paris, France, starting in 1919 when Sylvia Beach first opened it as the first English-language book store in the French capital. The prominent writers of the 1920's and 1930's frequented Shakespeare and Company, and it became a gathering place for people like Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and, of course, James Joyce, whose novel Ulysses Ms. Beach published in segments. This is an interesting glimpse into a time when prohibition was on in the USA, and many artists and writers escaped to Europe to enjoy the lifestyle, and the discussion of banned books and pirating manuscripts was enlightening. I enjoyed this book immensely!
  • Margaret A. (Cornelius, NC)
    The Paris Bookseller
    The Paris Bookseller is a historical fictitious version of the true story of Sylvia Beach, the founder of Shakespeare and Company in Paris and champion of modern literature The book does a great job of transporting you to the time and place of Paris in 1918 through the1930s.

    Ms. Beach and her partner were living openly in a same-sex relationship in the 1920s. Paris and France were more liberal than most places. There are contrasts made between Paris with the US, especially as the US enacted the Volstead Act and sought to outlaw anything that smacked of indecency.

    The bookstore was an English reading store that brought in many great authors of the time. Ms Beach had friendships with Ezra Pound, Earnest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and James Joyce. When James Joyce's classic novel, Ulysses, was banned Ms. Beach made enormous sacrifices in the struggle to publish that book. She is the heroine of the story by being a champion of modern ligature and standing up for who and what she believed in even when being treated horribly by those close to her.
  • Phyllis P. (Hendersonville, TN)
    Worth the Time to Read
    The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher was not my cup of tea. I struggled with this one. I still rate it four stars because there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. Many people will fall head over heels in love with this book. So, let me explain.

    I think it took me a week to read this book. I kept putting it down and then found I was not excited to pick it up again. A week is a long time for me to read a book. The book was on the low key side and that's OK. I'm not sure I cared about the subject matter and I should have because I don't believe in banned books. James Joyce's Ulysses was banned and is now hailed as an important book and turning point in literature. I just wasn't passionate about the whole process.

    The writing was beautiful. You could tell the author loved her subject and the characters she brought to life in the story. I would not have know any of this history without this book. So, I'm thankful for the knowledge she imparted to her readers.

    I've never been to Paris and enjoyed the setting and learning of everyday life there. Again, this is a worthwhile book. It was worth my time. For me, it was not a book I couldn't put down. I finish 99.9 percent of everything I start and usually find an appreciation for the book by the time I finish. The Paris Bookseller was not an exception. I urge readers to pick up a copy of this book.
  • Maryanne (Chapel Hill, NC)
    Literary Paris Scene of 1920s-1930s
    Sylvia Beach's English-language bookstore in Paris, "Shakespeare and Company", comes alive in this historical fiction account of the years between the two world wars. As the nucleus for Parisian literary life, the bookstore allows Beach to befriend and promote expatriate writers and their work. The plot is driven by her vision and determination to overstep boundaries and become the first publisher of James Joyce's Ulysses, previously banned in the US.

    Although Maher presents a fabulous portrayal of the struggles and dreams of Sylvia Beach while living amidst the optimism of Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, I think the author got caught up with extensive descriptions of her personal relationship with her lover, Adrienne Monnier. Similarly, the flow of the story often was impeded with details of too many literary figures, rather than concentrating on just a few characters who visited the bookstore. Nevertheless, I think this historical book will appeal to those who are fascinated with the Paris literary scene of the 1920s.
  • Louise E. (Ocean View, DE)
    What a Treat!
    The Paris Bookseller was an interesting read. I wasn't sure I was going to like it but eventually I got into the story about the bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, and Sylvia Beach, James Joyce, and Hemingway to name a few. I knew about famous American authors living in Paris in the 1920's but did not know about the bookstore or Beach. I would have loved to have visited it during that time. It was also interesting to learn about Joyce's behaviors and his book, Ulysses, which was published by Beach. I was happy Joyce eventually did the right thing for Beach. I think it would make a fun discussion for book clubs, finding out what people knew about this time in Paris and discussing the various authors.


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