The premise of A Novel Bookstore is a book-lover’s dream — two bibliophiles decide to establish a bookstore in Paris that sells only “good” novels as selected by a secret committee of eight literary figures. It is a great success — book lovers flock to The Good Novel to find quality literature that is seemingly lacking in other bookstores. However, someone has it in for the venture; writing op-ed pieces denouncing the store’s elitist attitude, exposing the owners’ secret and not-so-secret pasts. Three of the committee members are then attacked, and the fate of the bookstore is called into question.
Unfortunately, the mystery of the attacks (and a weak romance) doesn’t do much for the story, which otherwise is a great celebration of books and reading and their positive effects:
You have just confirmed to me that one of the most fortunate purposes of literature is to bring like-minded people together and get them talking.
The city of Paris also shines in this novel, and if I didn’t already have an intense desire to make a return visit, I would definitely have it after reading this.
I have to say that I am a big fan of the book’s publisher, Europa Editions. This is the third book I have read from their catalog (The Elegance of the Hedgehog and Gourmet Rhapsody, both by Muriel Barbery, are the others) and I have several others on my to-read pile. I love that they are providing American readers with European literature in translation. It would be great to be able to read these books in their original languages, but Europa Editions provides us with an acceptable alternative.
(ps I’ve purchased their books on my own)