The Nazis were book-burners. As a Jewish philosopher so presciently wrote a century before, those who burn books ultimately burn people. That understanding of evil is at the heart of this thrilling story. Beautiful Odile Souchet lands her dream job at the American Library in Paris. But it is 1939; war has begun, and France is about to fall to Hitler’s all-conquering army. The American Library will be duly ‘purified’, so Odile and her fellow librarians go undercover and join the French resistance. Their chief weapons?
The Paris Library is based on the true story of the American Library in the French capital, and the breath-taking heroism shown by its guardians when German troops occupied the city. If you think librarians are, by nature, dusty, fusty, gently pottering souls, be prepared for a very big shock.
One of the great strengths of Janet Skeslien Charles’s wonderful story is the sudden, absolute reversal of fortunes she describes. Paris, 1939, and a city confident their country’s army and air force can protect them from the worst Hitler may be foolish enough to throw at them. Odile – young, beautiful, fiercely intelligent and with a dashingly handsome police officer boyfriend – is thrilled to have landed her dream job in the American Library. Life is good.
But within months, German troops have blitzkrieged their way across France and stormed into the City of Light. The Nazi’s brutal war on words and ideas has reached Paris. It is a time for capitulation, or defiance. Odile chooses the latter. A mesmerising novel: we both loved it.