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About The Book

Based on the true World War II story of the American Library in Paris, an unforgettable novel about the power of books and the bonds of friendship—and the ordinary heroes who can be found in the most perilous times and the quietest places.

Paris, 1939.

Young, ambitious, and tempestuous, Odile Souchet has it all: Paul, her handsome police officer beau; Margaret, her best friend from England; Remy, her twin brother who she adores; and a dream job at the American Library in Paris, working alongside the library’s legendary director, Dorothy Reeder. When World War II breaks out, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear—including her beloved library. After the Nazi army marches into the City of Light and declares a war on words, Odile and her fellow librarians join the Resistance with the best weapons they have: books. Again and again, they risk their lives to help their fellow Jewish readers, but by war’s end, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983.

Odile’s solitary existence in gossipy small-town Montana is unexpectedly interrupted by her neighbor Lily, a lonely teenager craving adventure. As Lily uncovers more about Odile’s mysterious past, they find they share not only a love of language but also the same lethal jealousy. Odile helps Lily navigate the troubled waters of adolescence by always recommending the right book at the right time, never suspecting that Lily will be the one to help her reckon with her own terrible secret.

Based on the true story of the American Library in Paris, The Paris Library is a mesmerizing and captivating novel about the people and the books that make us who we are, for good and for bad, and the courage it takes to forgive.

About The Author

Krystal Kenney

Janet Skeslien Charles is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Paris Library. Her work has been translated into thirty-seven languages. She has spent a decade researching Jessie Carson (Miss Morgan’s Book Brigade) at The Morgan Library, the NYPL, and archives across France. Her shorter work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, The Sydney Morning Herald, LitHub, and the anthology Montana Noir. To connect, visit her website, @JSkeslienCharles on Instagram, or @SkeslienCharles on Twitter.

Why We Love It

“Paris. World War II. It’s librarians vs Nazis, and the librarians win!”

—Trish T., VP, Executive Editor, on The Paris Library

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 2, 2021)
  • Length: 416 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982134938

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Raves and Reviews

“Opens the doors to a hidden world in Paris, one that’s both inspiring and like a precious secret you want to savour. It pulled me in with its delightful cast of bookworm characters and all their quirks and secrets. This is an engaging story of the magic of books, how they can offer hope, strength, and joy in the darkest hours.”
ELLEN KEITH, bestselling author of The Dutch Wife

“Absolutely delightful from the first page to the last. I recommend this book to anyone who understands the magic of books, friendships, and love in the face of evil.”
GENEVIEVE GRAHAM, #1 bestselling author of The Forgotten Home Child

“A vivid, enjoyable, based-on-a-true-story tale. In The Paris Library, the beloved library, its staff, and its subscribers come to life and remind us of both the horrors of World War II and the vital role books play in keeping us afloat in difficult times. Well-researched, stirring, and rich with detail, The Paris Library is an ode to the importance of libraries, books, and the human connections we find within both.”
KRISTIN HARMEL, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names

“A billet-doux to books and libraries.”
Toronto Star

“As a Parisian, an ardent bookworm, and a longtime fan of the American Library in Paris, I devoured The Paris Library in one hungry gulp. It is charming and moving, with a perfect balance between history and fiction.”
TATIANA DE ROSNAY, bestselling author of Sarah’s Key

“A fresh take on World War II France that will appeal to bibliophiles everywhere. I fell in love with Odile and Lily, with their struggles and triumphs, from the very first page. Meticulously researched, The Paris Library is an irresistible, compelling read.”
FIONA DAVIS, bestselling author of The Chelsea Girls

“The Paris Library is a refreshing novel that celebrates libraries as cradles of community, especially when we need them the most. It shows how literature can be a means of escape, a catalyst for human connection, and a moral center in grim times. A thoroughly enjoyable read, kind-hearted and brimming with delightful bookish allusions.”
MATTHEW SULLIVAN, author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

“Intelligent and sensuously rich. . . . A novel tailor-made for those who cherish books and libraries.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A love letter to Paris, the power of books, and the beauty of intergenerational friendship.”

“Delightful . . . Richly detailed . . . Historical fiction fans will be drawn to the realistic narrative and the bond of friendship forged between a widow and a lonely young girl.”
Publishers Weekly

“Second World War Resistance fighters? Check. Glamorous location? Check. Rooms filled with books? Check, check, and check. What’s not to love about a novel that melds all three into one incredibly satisfying read? This story centres on Odile, who works at the American Library in Paris in 1939 and, 50 years on, is living in Montana next to lonely teenager Lily. As the two become friends, Odile slowly reveals her secrets, including her acts of bravery—and betrayal—to the girl whose present day actions eerily mirror Odile’s past.”
Canadian Living

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More books from this author: Janet Skeslien Charles