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The Paris Bookseller: Book summary and reviews of The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher

The Paris Bookseller

by Kerri Maher

The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher X
The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher
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About this book

Book Summary

The dramatic story of how a humble bookseller fought against incredible odds to bring one of the most important books of the 20th century to the world in this new novel from the author of The Girl in White Gloves.

When bookish young American Sylvia Beach opens Shakespeare and Company on a quiet street in Paris in 1919, she has no idea that she and her new bookstore will change the course of literature itself.

Shakespeare and Company is more than a bookstore and lending library: Many of the prominent writers of the Lost Generation, like Ernest Hemingway, consider it a second home. It's where some of the most important literary friendships of the twentieth century are forged—none more so than the one between Irish writer James Joyce and Sylvia herself. When Joyce's controversial novel Ulysses is banned, Beach takes a massive risk and publishes it under the auspices of Shakespeare and Company.

But the success and notoriety of publishing the most infamous and influential book of the century comes with steep costs. The future of her beloved store itself is threatened when Ulysses' success brings other publishers to woo Joyce away. Her most cherished relationships are put to the test as Paris is plunged deeper into the Depression and many expatriate friends return to America. As she faces painful personal and financial crises, Sylvia—a woman who has made it her mission to honor the life-changing impact of books—must decide what Shakespeare and Company truly means to her.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A beautiful ode to Sylvia Beach, the renowned Shakespeare and Company owner, a real-life heroine who has left her mark on us all."—Marie Benedict, New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Personal Librarian

"If you ever dreamed you could transport yourself to Paris in the twenties, to Sylvia Beach's famous bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, where Joyce, Hemingway, and Pound wandered the aisles, this story's for you. Maher's magical touch brings to life a woman whose struggles resonate in today's world, while also examining the intricacies of friendship, fortitude, and the love of the written word."—Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue

"The Paris Bookseller is a novel I long to live in, a vivid evocation of the famous female-owned Parisian bookshop Shakespeare and Company which acted as haven and home to the literati of pre-WWII Europe. Heroine and shop owner Sylvia Beach shepherds seemingly all of the great writers of the 20th century with an appealing blend of warmth, wit, frustration, and understanding. Kerri Maher writes a love letter to books, bookstores, and booklovers everywhere." —Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code

"A story about Paris and bookshops was bound to find a place in my heart but this one has the pièce de résistance: the character of Sylvia Beach. I was completely enthralled by Beach's life and her tenacity in founding the first English-language bookshop in Paris, while also publishing James Joyce's epic but controversial Ulysses. With an abundance of delightful cameos from all of your favourite literary heroes as well as a fascinating rendering of Paris's glory days during the 1920s and 30s, this novel will transport you as only the best historical fiction can."—Natasha Lester, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Secret

"Midnight in Paris meets A Moveable Feast in this intimate, in-depth look at the brave and visionary woman who founded one of the world's most iconic bookstores, Shakespeare & Company, on Paris's Left Bank. Studded with appearances from the likes of James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway, The Paris Bookseller brings alive not only interwar Paris, but also the complicated friendship that led to the publication of Joyce's epic Ulysses and helped pave the way for Paris's enduring English-language literary legacy. If you've ever fallen in love with a bookstore, you'll love this ode to booksellers and to the power and magic of the written word."—Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars

"The Paris Bookseller is a beautifully written homage to those who keep literature alive and to the quirky inhabitants of the literary community whose work sometimes transcends their personal failings. With an open heart and vivid prose, Maher brings to life a lost age and I can't wait to see what this talented author will tackle next." —Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of The Women of Chateau Layfayette

"In her latest, Maher throws open a window to 1920s Paris and the Lost Generation, dropping readers into the fascinating true story of one woman's fight to save a masterpiece. Maher weaves a tale that is atmospheric, heartfelt, and brimming with life, leaving no doubt a novel is a living, breathing thing."—Michelle Gable, New York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment and The Bookseller's Secret

"Dazzling like Paris, rich and immersive like the work it celebrates, and bursting with heart and passion like every great bookstore, The Paris Bookseller is a dream for book lovers from start to finish." —Steven Rowley, Bestselling author of The Editor and The Guncle

"Kerri Maher vividly transports us back in time to the establishment of the world's most famous and beloved bookstore, Shakespeare and Company. Its founder, Sylvia Beach is brilliantly portrayed as is her fight to publish one of the greatest novels ever written. Filled with such literary luminaries as James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Paris Bookseller is a bibliophile's dream come true."—Renée Rosen, USA Today bestselling author of The Social Graces

"If you've ever gotten lost in the narrow, deliciously overcrowded aisles of Shakespeare and Company, or you just want to imagine you have, this is the novel for you. Kerri Maher brings to life the fascinating history of Shakespeare and Company and its founder, Sylvia Beach, whose vision and drive led her to create not only a world-famous bookstore, but to defy the censors and publish the first edition of Joyce's Ulysses. Intelligent, fierce, and filled with reverence for a fascinating epoch in literary history, The Paris Bookseller is a delight for readers and writers."—Whitney Scharer, Author of The Age of Light

"The Paris Bookseller is at once a moving love letter to 1920s Paris, an insight into The Lost Generation, and an ode to a woman's fight for freedom. It brings to life the all-consuming relationship between a bookseller and a work of art in such a compelling way that I couldn't stop turning the pages, and I closed the book yearning for a place like Shakespeare and Company. A sparkling read."—Evie Dunmore, USA Today bestselling author of Bringing Down the Duke
 
"The Paris Bookseller is a wonderful tribute to the visionary woman who fought for freedom of speech and changed the landscape of literature forever. By bringing a memorable cast of quirky and charming artistic giants to life, Kerri Maher deftly creates an intimate look at the story behind Shakespeare and Company, one of the most beloved landmarks for readers everywhere. I was captivated by this fascinating story!"—Elise Hooper, Author of Fast Girls
 
"A love letter to the extraordinary people who made interwar Paris the place to be for book lovers. With distinctive prose and honesty, Kerri brings to life the glory days of Paris's most unforgettable bookstore, illuminating a world where leading literary lights await us on every page — and spotlighting the woman who united them all, Miss Sylvia Beach." —Bryn Turnbull, Author The Woman Before Wallis

"The unexpected bonus in this mesmerizing novel is the saga of Sylvia Beach's friendship with James Joyce and her decision to publish Ulysses when publishers showed no interest, a difficult decision made even more difficult by Joyce himself. The Paris Bookseller drops you in the middle of Paris and delicious, intimate encounters with literary greats and soon-to-be-greats who frequented Shakespeare and Company in the years between the World Wars." —Janie Chang, Author of Dragon Springs Road and The Library of Legends

"Kerri Maher's The Paris Bookseller tells the captivating story of Sylvia Beach, her famed bookstore Shakespeare and Company, and the tremendous role both played in the artistic landscape of interwar Paris. Here literary giants are brought to vivid life in the aisles of a charming Parisian bookshop, and we see not only their humanity, but also their courage in forging new paths in a changing world. Inspiring, fascinating, and delightful, this story will resonate with readers long after the final page." —Kristin Beck, Author of Courage, My Love

"Absorbing, intricate, and beautifully told, The Paris Bookseller is the unforgettable true story of Sylvia Beach, a champion of modern literature who made enormous sacrifices in the struggle to publish James Joyce's classic novel, Ulysses, while also establishing Shakespeare and Company, a bookstore that became the Parisian home for literary luminaries of her day. With all the color and verve of post WWI Paris and the deep love of literature that pervades every page, The Paris Bookseller is a novel for book lovers to treasure."—Christine Wells, author of Sisters of the Resistance

"The Paris Bookseller lulls you into an interwar Parisian dream where love—be it romantic, friendly, or even for a book—can be found on a quirky little street in the 6th. Kerri Maher's pen skillfully imagines the life of American expat Sylvia Beach and her bookstore Shakespeare and Company in the 1920s and 1930s. This book is a charming escape into the real life literary paradise that was once known as Odeonia." —Kaia Alderson, author of Sisters in Arms

"With a cast of characters that span the Lost Generations' literary pantheon, The Paris Bookseller offers up both a sweeping story of artistic creativity in the face of censorship as well as an intimate portrait of one woman's struggle to remain true to herself. Maher's lush writing and rich historical detail will have you thinking about Sylvia and her bookshop long after you've turned the final page."—Alex Rickloff, Author of The Way to London

"Kerri Maher leads us through Bohemian Paris in the 1920s with all the joie de vivre we could hope for. Through love and books, a fresh Sylvia Beach creates a new life after meeting impressive Parisian bookseller Adrienne Monnier, and by the arrival of Irish writer James Joyce in their circle. A compelling and fascinating look at the world-changing mavericks who bonded, bickered and triumphed in the realm of literature."—Nuala O'Connor, author of Nora: A Love Story of Nora and James Joyce

"A scrupulously-researched, enchanting novel, The Paris Bookseller is a feast of literary pre-war Paris. I was transported by Maher's portrait of the iconic Sylvia Beach and her magical bookshop."—Michaela Carter, author of Leonora In the Morning Light

This information about The Paris Bookseller shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Dan W. (Fort Myers, FL)

The Lost Generation
Upon noticing the book title and the book cover for "The Paris Bookseller", I was hooked on this book. I have had the opportunity to visit the bookstore Shakespeare and Company in Paris several times on my trips to France. After reading this inspiring book by Kerri Maher, I long to once again visit the place that Sylvia Beach make possible for unknown, but talented, writers to create books that will live on through the ages. I found myself captivated by Kerri Maher's ability to draw the reader into a personalized way that Sylvia provided financial and moral support to some of the best "Lost Generation" authors. I think a book club would be an ideal forum to review and discuss this book! This is a book I would highly encourage any visitor to Paris to read; even those readers that might not able to actually travel to the "magical" place!

Jan, Colorado

The Paris Bookseller
It was with mixed emotions that I finished The Paris Bookseller. I could hardly stop reading it but I hated to see it end. This has been my favorite book of the year.

I had almost given up reading historical fiction because other authors had so completely and dismally strayed from the real people and real events. Kerri Maher was masterful in using the real people, real events, and the setting and then added to the story. I was not familiar with Sylvia Beach or Shakespeare and Company and I truly enjoyed learning about her influence on literature. The author brought all of the other real people to life and revealed their personalities. I also appreciated that the author told the story linearly as opposed to the popular jumping back and forth in time that many authors are employing today.

I would love to discuss this book in a book club. The characters are rich and deserve us diving into their lives and relationships. I researched some of the events while reading the book, and would like to learn more about the events depicted in the book. I will definitely recommend it to my book club after the book is published.

I think this book would appeal to people who enjoy historical fiction and literature lovers. I will watch for more Kerri Maher books in the future.

Terrie J. (Eagan, MN)

A Book for Book Lovers
This was a fun book for book lovers. Many famous authors made appearances in the midst of a great story line. The heroine of the story was a strong woman with lofty goals during a time when women weren't looked upon as successful entrepreneurs. There were surprises throughout the book which kept my interest while reading. It was well written and the descriptions made you feel like you were there. I highly recommend this book for all types of readers.

Linda S. (Milford, CT)

The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher
This is a charming, interesting book about the origins of a famous bookshop in Paris, Shakespeare and Company and how it came to be in 1918. Sylvia Beach is a young American, visiting Paris with her family and falls in love with the City of Lights. So begins her journey to create a new English speaking bookshop and lending library and her long time relationship with Adrienne Monnier. After it was established, many famous authors frequented the bookshop, such as Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway and his wives, and Gertrude Stein. Sylvia became good friends with James Joyce, who was a large presence in the novel. Sylvia Beach is a delightful character, especially knowing that she existed.

Anyone who loves books and reading will enjoy the book. It was well researched and the Author's Notes at the end were most informative. I feel the book would lend itself to a great discussion. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

Alyce T. (San Antonio, TX)

Old Friends
Reading "the Paris Bookseller" is like attending a High School or College Reunion. It is so much fun meeting and greeting old friends. As the characters come into the store, Shakespeare and Company owned by the famous Sylvia Beach, we "know" them as well as relatives coming home for a family reunion. it is a joy to learn of the interactions and friendships of the famous authors of the 20th Century. We experience their gathering together for support and to escape the bans and prohibitions in the early 1900s.

James Joyce's "Ulysses " is the focal point of this true story and how the community saved it. Kerri Maher's delightful book will be entertaining for both old and new readers. and will create lively discussions for book Clubs..

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.

...20 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Kerri Maher Author Biography

Kerri Maher is the author of The Girl in White Gloves, The Kennedy Debutante, and, under the name Kerri Majors, This Is Not a Writing Manual: Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and was a writing professor for many years. She now writes full-time and lives with her daughter and dog in a leafy suburb west of Boston, Massachusetts.

Link to Kerri Maher's Website

Name Pronunciation
Kerri Maher: MAY-er

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