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The Paris Bookseller

by Kerri Maher

The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher X
The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher
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  • Published Jan 2022
    336 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Page 3 of 5
There are currently 33 member reviews
for The Paris Bookseller
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  • Claire M. (Sarasota, FL)
    The Paris Bookseller
    I struggle to write about this tale of Sylvia Beach. The beginning chapters were overwritten, used current American phrases, and almost made me wonder if I wanted to continue. I persisted as I was expecting a story about the trials and travails of opening what became a world celebrated English language bookstore in Paris in the 1920's. As I read the book and adjusted my expectations for an historical fiction-helped by reading the author's note at the end to see what was actual, I enjoyed the story and became very involved-to the point of great anger at James Joyce and the importance of the Beach-Monnier relationship to the art, culture, and literature of the day. I suppose my response was that the initial chapters of the development of the romance between Sylvia and Monnier did not have to be the opening-and the worst written. Paris in those days and earlier was a welcoming place for Parisians and expats of liberal gender identity. But the relationship was how they supported one another to create and stimulate the story of the literary scene of the twenties and thirties and the extraordinary work that came out of the people who found themselves a home and intellectual exchange in a period of cultural conservativism in the U.S. Sylvia's determination to publish Ulysses – as the seminal piece of avantgarde literature was a brave and foundational breakthrough in literature and obscenity laws.
  • Jackie H. (Naples, FL)
    When I began reading the book I wasn't sure I would finish it, another early to mid-20th century era book about a bookstore or library. However, the more I read, the better I liked it. It highlighted the more liberal European society, especially in the literary world. Sylvia Beach was indeed a very motivated strong woman to succeed in publishing Joyce's novel and dealing with him and his outrageous behavior. The book is well researched and rounded out personalities of other writers who frequented Shakespeare and Company.
  • Ruth C
    The Paris Bookseller is an unexpected treat. For someone who loves books and bookstores this fascinating visit to the historical perspective is deeply appreciated. Kerri Maher brings the reader right into the streets of Paris during the Twenties and Thirties when prominent writers gathered at Shakespeare and Company, Sylvia Beach’s legendary bookstore. Don’t miss the Author’s Note – makes reading more of Ms. Maher’s work worth exploring.
  • B.B. - Chicagoland, IL
    1920's Paris Literary Scene
    Three of my favorite things in a book are historical fiction, books about books (or bookstores), and Paris. This novel satisfied all three. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Sylvia Beach and the 1920's literary scene in Paris. It seems that the author did quite a bit of research as a foundation for this novel.
  • Kate G. (Bronx, NY)
    Sylvia Beach and her Bookstore
    Kerri Maher's detailed novel about Sylvia Beach and her English language bookshop, Shakespeare and Company is a great read. I flew through the second half as I wanted to know what happened next. Sylvia is in Paris in 1919 and opens her store which becomes the center of life for the ex-pat authors who lived in Paris in the interwar period. Looming the largest is Irishman James Joyce who is unable to publish Ulysses as it is banned in the US. Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway all loomed large in Sylvia's life and helped keep the bookstore financially afloat. Sylvia's lover, Adrienne Monnier helps her achieve her dreams for her store and her life. Overall, an interesting novel about a little known literary figure.
  • Sherilyn R. (St George, UT)
    The Paris Bookseller
    Sylvia Beach is The Paris Bookseller, who became critical to the literary life of Paris in the years between the wars.

    The establishment of her bookstore Shakespeare & Company, the publishing of the banned book "Ulysses", Sylvia's relationships with James Joyce and her lover Adrienne Monnier, as well as life amongst the expatriate community of Paris in the twenties and thirties is an awful lot to cover in one book. Maher does an extraordinary job bringing all of these diverse topics into a highly readable and informative book. She also brought into sharp contrast the extreme conservatism in the U.S. and the liberalism of Paris in the early years of the 20th century.

    What I did not care for was the preoccupation with James Joyce and the publishing of the banned book "Ulysses". I know this was of critical importance to the legend surrounding Shakespeare & Company but I found it rather dry and uninteresting reading. I would have preferred more emphasis on Sylvia's and Adrienne's relationship or on The Lost Generation a term coined by Gertrude Stein to describe the group of American writers who came of age and established their literary reputations during the 1920s.

    This book would be of interest to those readers fond of the literature written in the decades before WWII, and lovers of books and bookstores. I recommend this book along with Noel Riley Fitch's book, Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: a History of Literary Paris In the Twenties and Thirties.
  • Nancy D. (Raleigh, NC)
    A Literary Trip
    The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher gives one an opportunity to view literary Paris in the twenties and thirties. We get to observe up close and personal Joyce, Hemingway, Pound, Stein and more of the luminaries who made Paris their home in the 1920's. We get to know Sylvia Beach, who ran the bookstore, Shakespeare and Company and was the first publisher of Ulysses. Sylvia's backstory is centered around her desire to do something meaningful with her life. She struggles with her family dynamics. We learn about her aloof father and her mother, who often suffered from depression. Never confident in any of her relationships, she finds happiness with Adrienne Monnier. It takes courage for her to finally acknowledge her sexuality and to be comfortable about it. All of her strength, however, was spent helping James Joyce get Ulysses published and finding a way to sell it to the public. One is left wondering what their relationship really was, but Joyce and Beach relied on each other and often came to each other's rescue. While enjoying this scholarly visit with some of literature's greatest author, we also see the growth and maturity of Sylvia, who truly becomes her own person. This book was a delight both by way of history and by way of character development.


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