‘You see, Jordan’, said Perdu, taking a different tack, ‘a book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books’.
All it took was one quick glance at the back cover of this book, where you can find the quote above, for me to know that I had to read it.
The main character is Monsieur J. Perdu, a very special bookseller that lives at 27 Rue Montagnard, Paris. He honestly believes that books are more than escapes, more than distractions, more than simple symbols lying randomly on a piece of paper. For Monsieur Jean Perdu, books are life and life is a book that we write ourselves, sometimes with the aid of other already written words.
As the grandmother, mother and girl said their good-byes and went on their way, Perdu reflected that it was a common misconception that booksellers looked after books.
They look after people.
Heving the dream of opening a bookstore myself, I felt right at home with this book. The first few chapters are, in my opinion, absolutely delicious. It truly starts as a book about books and book lovers. As you go on though, it becomes the book of someone’s life, the book of Jean Perdu. His having been a human life, it comes with love and loss, passion and hatred, ups and downs… it’s a roller coaster, making and losing its sense depending on the reader’s own experiences.
I love how the people in Perdu’s life come together. I love how they forgive one another, I love how that wave of almost selfless forgiveness seems to be start of their own journey into self-forgiveness. It’s like this novel is telling us that we can’t be without other beings. Which, in my opinion, and to a certain point, is absolutely true.
The writing style has ups and downs, like the book itself, like Perdu’s life. It seems fitting, even if oddly at times, when there’s a sudden change in rhythm.
I wish we could have heard more about the other peculiar characters that lived at 27 Rue Montagnard. I do understand why we had to leave them behind to follow Perdu’s storyline. He had to leave them himself. He needed to start a new chapter, but had to first review some that had yet to be edited.
That said, it was quite a lovely read. It has its corny moments, but don’t we all?
P.S. I would love to read the book that Mr. Perdu was writing