Title: The Little Bookshop on the Seine
Author: Rebecca Raisin
Genre: Fiction, Chick Lit, Christmas, Contemporary, Romance, Cultural (France)
First Published: October 2015
‘It was easier to hide behind the cover of my books, and I found happiness there.’
INFO | Goodreads
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Small town bookshop owner Sarah Smith is asked by her heartbroken Parisian friend to do a bookshop exchange. With her boyfriend caught up in his job as a reporter, Sarah decides to step out of her comfort zone and move to Paris in search of adventure.
Not usually one for chick lits, I was encouraged by fellow book club members Jess (The Teacup Library) and Emily (The Geek Undergraduate) to consider this book for our Christmas read. I am pleased to say that I have been truly converted by the experience, and have so many good things to say about this book.
Firstly, let’s talk characters. Sarah is our narrator and is exactly my kind of protagonist. She is shy and bookish, with a romantic view of the world. Her beautiful descriptions of Paris read like something out of a travel guide, and will trigger wanderlust in everyone who reads them. Rebecca Raisin writes with great knowledge and passion about the city and culture, and it is easy to be transported to the busy little bookshop on the Seine. Much to my delight, Sarah’s transition to the new shop is not easy – the challenges she faces with finances and staff are very real, and I love to see characters problem-solve. For Sarah, getting things in line at the bookshop were a major part of her character development, and certainly made things more exciting!
Ridge (Sarah’s partner) isn’t my cup of tea, but I can appreciate what Sarah sees in him – he shows a great deal of affection towards her, and seems genuinely guilty for not being around more. I like that there is a lot of mystery surrounding his work and schedule, and this fuels Sarah’s and the reader’s fear that he is being led astray during his long stints away from home. I was quick to believe that he could be unfaithful, but this became less likely as I read on, as I trusted in Sarah’s judgement of him. Even so, I was unsure which direction their relationship would take – with her new found confidence, Sarah must choose whether to let the love of her life go, or to learn to live with his hectic lifestyle. This builds up to a nice little twist at the end which I wasn’t expecting.
I was led to assume – probably from other books I have read – that things would fall apart with Ridge and she would get swept up by a certain sexy Parisian writer. It just wasn’t about that at all, and I can only applaud author Rebecca Raisin for producing a strong character in a strong and healthy relationship. The characters show that communication is key, and the moral of the story is that by being honest with each other, Sarah and Ridge are able to talk openly about their feelings. This was so refreshing – how many books have I read where couples just don’t talk to each other like normal people?
‘I had to remember my life wasn’t a romance novel, no matter how much I wanted it to be.’
This book is about love and romance but even more so it is about friendship and independence. It was a huge deal for me that Sarah gained confidence in herself and gave time to form friendships and focus on business in the bookshop. I found the bookshop staff to all be unique with distinctive personalities and backgrounds. I developed a soft spot for TJ, and was pleased that Sarah was able to make more than one male friend who had no interest in pursuing something romantic with her.
My only criticism is that I felt the ending was slightly rushed. I loved how loose ends were tied up, but after the whole novel had been so steadily paced, it did feel that suddenly a lot of events happened at once. I’m probably just nitpicking now!
I’m glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone like Sarah and picked up a chick lit this Christmas. I’ve discovered a wonderful book and a brand new author I’ll be reading more of in the future!
Star Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
Thank you for joining us for this month’s book club! If you are interested in Rebecca Raisin’s work, she was kind enough to participate in a Q&A earlier in the month, available to read here.