Come Sail Away: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George


Some of my favorite novels are set in Paris. And some of my favorite novels are books about readers. The Little Paris Bookshop encompasses both.

Monsieur Perdu lives a small life in Paris, mourning a love lost decades ago. He is the proprietor and prescriber extraordinaire on the Literary Apothecary, a floating book shop barge on the Seine. He fills his life at 27 Rue Montagnard by eavesdropping on his neighbor’s celebrity gossip, eating a routine set of meals, reading and refusing to think of the love who left him 21 years before. By day, he prescribes books (with the occasional refusal of sale of an inappropriate read) to those who board the Literary Apothecary. His primary companions are a couple of literary lovers.

. . . he pippisaw Kafka and Lindgren sloping toward him beneath the avenue of trees that lined the embankment. Those were the names he’d given to two stray cats that paid him daily visits on the basis of certain preferences they had developed. The gray tomcat with the white priest’s collar enjoyed sharpening his claws on Franz Kafka’s Investigations of a Dog, a fable that analyzes the human world from a dog’s perspective. On the other hand, orange-white, long-eared Lindgren liked to lie near the books about Pippi Longstocking; she was a fine-looking cat who peered out from the back of the bookshelves and scrutinized each visitor. Lindgren and Kafka would sometimes do Perdu a favor by dropping off one of the upper shelves without warning onto a third-category customer, one of the greasy-fingered type.

But Monsieur Perdu’s life is upset by two arrivals: a new boarder at Rue Montagnard and a young, successful novelist aboard the Literary Apothecary. With no plan, Perdu upsets his entire life, gives “the gangway a few powerful kicks to release it finally from the ground,” and sails forth on the Seine with no destination other than “‘Away from here!'” And it is then, as with most river trips, the big adventure begins.

I truly enjoyed this book, much in the same way I did The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store and Shadow of the Wind.  It is ultimately a book about a man who loves books and sees books themselves as a healing, medicinal force. I agree with him. In a critical review by Amanda Vaill, the Washington Post called international bestseller The Little Paris Bookshop a “novel [that] tastes like artificially flavored cardboard.”

Kirkus Reviews called it “a warmhearted, occasionally sentimental account of letting go of the old loves to make room for new.”

I thought it was lovely. Yes, it’s sentimental. But if you are taking me on a river trip aboard a novel-filled barge into Provence, a peck of sentimentality is perhaps to be expected, and appreciated. I think your book club would love The Little Paris Bookshop.



Fish Provencal
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
10 oil-cured black olives, pitted, sliced
1 teaspoon capers, mashed
4 (6-ounce) firm white fish fillets, like snapper
Sauce: Heat oil in saucepan. Add onion and garlic; saute for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, olives and capers; simmer, uncovered, over medium heat 15 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Coat broiler proof baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place fish in single layer in baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes.
Remove dish from oven. Increase oven temperature to broil. Spoon sauce over fish. Broil fish 3 to 4 inches from source of heat for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.


I would intersperse some great French music with tango. On a new find (for me!), you can enter “French chanson” and have a whole night of Serge Gainsborough, Edith Piaf, and Jacques Brel.

Happy reading & eating!little paris//


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