"Books keep stupidity at bay. And vain hopes. And vain men. They undress you with love, strength, and knowledge. It's love from within."
Jean Perdu has perhaps the best job in the world. He is a bookseller who sells books much like a doctor would prescribe medicine-he can talk with a person and know exactly what kind of book they need in their life for any given situation. His bookstore, La Pharmacie Litteraire, is on a huge barge floating in the Sienne, in Paris. While he is friendly to all and seems to have a good life, Monsieur Perdu is broken on the inside. He has never recovered from the heartbreak of having his lover abandon him twenty years ago. He lives by providing happiness to others by finding them the books they need, but invests no happiness in his own life. He shies away from any interpersonal relationships for fear of being hurt again. When a letter from long ago surfaces, it sheds light on the circumstances around his romantic abandonment from long ago, Perdu takes off in his bookshop on a journey across France that will lead him to adventure, discovery, and personal healing.
"Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you've got those autumn blues. And some...well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful void."
This might just be one of the best books ever written. First of all, it is a love letter to books and to those that love them. What's not to love about that, right?! But that's only just scratching the surface of this outstanding novel. It's also a love letter to France. Not just Paris, but countless other cities and towns that Perdu explores. It's very beautifully written. He makes everything, from the people, the sights, and the exquisite meals, come alive to where it really feels as if you are experiencing everything right alongside of him. To my surprise it was also very poignant. Themes of love, loss, and finding your purpose filled the pages from cover to cover. I also love the idea (and if you're a reader, I'm sure you do too) that you can use books as a means for making you feel better. They are medicine for the soul. Monsieur Perdu was exactly the kind of hero that you just enjoy rooting for; kind, humble, generous, big-hearted, and courageous. This is definitely a book to keep you warm on these long, cold February nights.
“Reading—an endless journey; a long, indeed never-ending journey that made one more temperate as well as more loving and kind.”