Monday, February 08, 2021

Review: The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles


Title: The Paris Library
Author: Janet Skeslien Charles
Published: February 2021, Atria Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Publisher

Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife.

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.


My thoughts: Historical fiction is a genre that never fails to disappoint me and I knew as soon as I received this book that it would be something special. Little did I know just how much I would be able to relate to it now.

I love dual timelines and this one was done so well. I was equally invested in both and found myself quite upset when the story would switch from one to the other because even though I was eager to get back to the other timeline, I also didn't want to leave where we were, if that makes sense. I also loved how as the story moves forward, we slowly get all the pieces of Odile's mysterious past and again, as I mentioned in an earlier review, these historical mysteries are really becoming my jam! 

I've never read anything before about The American Library in Paris, so this was a huge treat for me but it was also so interesting how the library handled things during WWII. I didn't realize that the Germans tried to take over the library and forced mandates on who could use the library during that time. Luckily the librarians were willing to bend the rules to make sure everyone was able to read who wanted to as they believe books provided a source of comfort during an uncertain time, much like they have done for us now during our pandemic. Reading provided an escape from all that was going on, a way to shut out the real world for a little while. Does this sound familiar to anyone right now?

This book grabbed me and didn't let go. It delves into relationships we forge during tough times, the choices we make, and how we learn to live with those choices. This book is one I won't be forgetting anytime soon. If you love historical fiction, I highly recommend picking this one won't regret it!



  1. I like history, I like dual time lines so this is for me definitely. Thanks for the review.

  2. I enjoyed this too , thanks for sharing your thoughts

  3. I'm listening to this one right now and loving it! Anything Paris automatically interests me, and Paris combined with the American Library...SOLD!


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