The Paris Library: A Novel (CD-Audio)
February 2021 Indie Next List
“I can’t think of a more perfect novel to recommend to book lovers than The Paris Library! Not only does it bring to life the true story of the heroic librarians of the American Library in Nazi-occupied Paris, its interwoven narrative of a bereft teenager in 1980s Montana who finds a kindred spirit in her mysterious, reclusive, and book-loving French neighbor is a feat of extraordinary storytelling. The Paris Library is a testament to the everlasting power of literature and literary places to bring people together and be a home for everyone, even during our darkest, most hopeless, and divided times.”
— Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books, Beverly, MA
Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet seems to have the perfect life with her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into the city, 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 love letter to Paris, the power of books, and the beauty of intergenerational friendship” (Booklist), The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest places.
Janet Skeslien Charles is the award-winning author of Moonlight in Odessa, which was published in ten languages. Her shorter work has appeared in revues such as Slice and Montana Noir. Janet first became interested in the incredible true story of the librarians who stood up to the Nazi “Book Protector” when she worked as the program’s manager at the American Library in Paris. Her novel The Paris Library will be published in thirty countries. She divides her time between Montana and Paris. Visit her at JSkeslienCharles.com or connect with her on Twitter @SkeslienCharles.
— AudioFile Magazine
"Three narrators present a little-known story about the American Library in Paris during the Nazi occupation. The two main characters are a precocious preteen named Lily, who lives in Montana in 1983, and a librarian named Odile, who lives in Paris in 1939. Narrator Nicky Diss presents a sunny, high-spirited Lily, who is passionate about books and in love with the Dewey Decimal System. Narrator Sarah Feathers offers an understated yet substantial portrait of Odile, who reveals how she and library staffers tried to save the ALP by defying the Nazis—and suffered the consequences. When the war bride and the teenager meet in Montana, their mutual love of books unites them. Narrator Esther Wane deftly handles the third-person chapters."
— AudioFile Magazine
“In 1979 Montana, pre-teen Lily is curious about her neighbor, the mysterious Odile Gustofson. All Lily knows is that Odile lived in Paris during WWII and that she still speaks with a captivating French accent. In an attempt to get to know her, Lily decides to interview Odile for a school project that leads to French lessons and a life-saving friendship. In chapters alternating between 1939 Paris and 1970s Montana, Odile’s past is revealed. As a young woman, Odile worked as a librarian at the American Library in Paris. Her love of books and libraries shines through the dialogue read by Sarah Feathers in a charming French accent. Reader Nicky Diss picks up Lily’s narrative, giving her a youthful American sound that contrasts with Feathers’ tones. She handles the older Odile’s French words with ease. Esther Wane fills in assorted characters’ chapters, sounding appropriately English, and the author reads the historical notes at the end of the recording. This is a wonderful story of the occupation, friendships across the years, and the power of books, all beautifully read. Listeners with a fondness for libraries, French language, or fine historical fiction will be enchanted.”
— Candace Smith