When Odile Souchet is appointed as a librarian at the American Library in Paris, it is a dream come true. Opening its doors during WWI to serve US soldiers in France, the library has a renewed purpose as WWII descends and Odile and her colleagues must fight to fulfil the library's original motto, 'after the darkness of war, the light of books'. Decades later, Odile, now a widowed war bride living in rural Montana, sees in her teenage neighbour Lily, something of herself at the same age. Through the dual narratives of 1940s Paris and 1980s Montana, readers are immersed in Odile's life, and the hard wrought lessons of living under occupation.
Incorporating historical figures from the American Library, and celebrating the power of books and libraries, this is an irresistible and thought-provoking story, and a particular delight for bibliophiles. [Larger font]
A great read, some had trouble getting into it but overall really enjoyed it. Especially interested in the fact that it was based on fact. An excellent read for a book club.
We found the questions very relevant and easy to answer. Considering the subject matter we didn't find the book depressing. A great read.
A historical novel based around the American library in Paris portraying courage and relationships of the people, family and friends who used the library. It was at the time when Paris was invaded by the Nazis. This great read shows how literature can bring people together but then an ending of betrayal stuns the reader.
Our group did not rate this book highly. There was some interest in the setting and context of the story, but we felt the characters were rather infantilised and naive.
This book was enjoyed by the group. There was a good discussion around the importance of the library to so many, and what it did during the occupation. It gave a good understanding of women in war. A great story around the importance of books in our lives!
A very popular read. We enjoyed discovering the American library in Paris in WWII. The novel is based on fact, and very well researched with a satisfying storyline.
Interesting story of a place few of us knew existed. Largely well-written, but some implausible events and actions.
We all enjoyed it. Library theme very book club appropriate, and certainly a new slant on WWII Paris. Well crafted theme of personal relationships and betrayal.
Everyone loved it. What an amazing group of people.
Our readers scored it between 1 and 4. Some thought the writing style was more suited to teenage readers, while others enjoyed the flitting back and forth. The lessons that Odile learned through not keeping 'Mum' about secrets were passed on to Lily.
Good discussion. Enjoyed by most in our group!
The whole group enjoyed this book immensely. They appreciated the intertwining of WWII and USA mid west 1980s. Done cleverly and believably.
A light read touching on some serious issues. Enjoyed by all.
We all enjoyed reading this book. A story based on fact that drew us into the lives of two women - Odile and Lily. The American Library in Paris, we understand, still exists. One of pour members has visited it when in Paris. A good read that covers the Nazi occupation of Paris during WWII.
Everyone enjoyed this book which produced some positive discussion. An easy read.
We all enjoyed this book - a light read which we found surprisingly engaging!
We loved this book! Great depths and themes, human relationships - jealousy, pain, loss, love etc. Good that it didn't have too many details on the war, it was more everyday details so quite a different perspective.
Absolutely loved this book, although a bit slow to start. Lots of moral stories.
Book was enjoyed by all members of our group (quite rare for us) who read it. One gave up. We found the depiction of life in occupied France very interesting and thought-provoking, and were intrigued by the operation of the library. However we were more perplexed by Odile's life in a small town in the USA. Why had she stayed living there so long - seemingly waiting for Lily to bring her to life
Enjoyed the book. We thought the questions too simplistic though, and they did not generate much discussion.
Disappointing was the conclusion reached by most of us. The topic could have been much more interesting, and although the book was an easy read many found it trite in places, and the subplot in Montana did not appeal.
Enjoyed by most. Interesting that it was based on a real library and real people.
Most of us really enjoyed this light, easy read. It was well-written with well drawn characters. But the second story was not used as well as we'd hoped - too sketchy, too American(!), too modern. We all liked the Parisian background and the books and the library - like 3 more characters! But it was frustrating and disappointing despite the beautiful writing!
Our group loved this book and thoroughly recommend it. Based on 'real-life' characters and well presented the concern at the time of the approach of war.
Group enjoyed the subject of the Paris American Library and the importance of books and libraries. However, felt the book was 'lightweight', and characters could have been developed further with more drama.