I read quite a bit of WWII historical fiction and consider myself to be something of an expert in this genre. Imagine how excited to find a novel about a librarian (like me) during this tumultuous time in history!
Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: a handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, 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.
Unfortunately, this novel just didn’t work for me. My biggest issue was the split narrative, which in this case, seriously weakened the plot. This is typically an effective tool, but Lily’s storyline was used so infrequently there seemed to be no reason to include it at all. Too bad the author didn’t just stick with Odile’s story. I would have enjoyed The Paris Library much more.