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The Paris Library cover art

The Paris Library

Written by: Janet Skeslien Charles
Narrated by: Nicky Diss,Sarah Feathers,Esther Wane
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Publisher's Summary

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. 

©2020 Janet Skeslien Charles (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

What the critics say

"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)

What listeners say about The Paris Library

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  • Overall
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Very good

I loved the relationship between Lily a young girl and her neighbour Odile.
Odile not only taught the young girl French but major thoughts and actions in life. Odile had been a bright young daughter in Paris who worked at the libary when the war started. She made several understandable life mistakes which due the war had major consequences which she regretted.

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4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great Story

The story kept getting better throughout. The characters were very human in all their good and bad qualities.

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3 people found this helpful

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  • Jan
  • 2021-04-22

An unexpected treasure

I was totally enraptured by this wonderful story of inter generational relationships, of understanding of the human condition, of love, acceptance, of meanness of spirit, of rage, betrayal and loss of liberty, family and friendship. I will listen to this book again.

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2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A good-ish book

I loved reading the historical account and the stories of the various characters whose lives were intertwined with the library. However, the Montana, USA angle was unnecessary and did not add to the storyline.

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2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Amazing

Excellent!! The narrators brought the characters to life!
I would highly recommend to anyone requiring an audio book.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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A Wartime Ode to Loyalty, Friendship and the Dewey Decimal System

Bang on, this book was clearly written by someone who works at the American Library in Paris. She captures the smells, sounds and lighting perfectly. Her characters are real; not imaginary. And she delicately juxtaposes what it’s like to live in (wartime) Paris, and as an outsider, in ANYWHERE, USA. And weaves a dynamic story around the complicated messiness of pragmatism, friendships and moral decency. Lastly, this is a wonderful homage to the ALP’s Dewey Decimal System. For that I give it an A+

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Transported in time

Very interesting way to ‘experience’ a different aspect of life under occupation.
I would recommend it to others.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Learn some history of the Second World War

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this story and feel that I would also enjoy reading it. Well written, an excellent story. Easy to follow as it moved backwards and forwards between generations and their connections. Highly recommended.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent read!!!

I always enjoy a compelling story that teaches me a part of history that I was unaware of. I loved the contrast between Odile and Lily and how they found each other when they needed each other the most.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Enjoyable read

The impulsiveness of youth and words spoken without thought can have consequences that last a life time. Can an older French woman who lived through Nazi occupation of Paris impress that upon a young girl in the US years later.

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