BOOK WISE FALL PICK: The Little Paris BookShop
AUTHOR: Nina George is a prize-winning and bestselling author from Germany (“Das Lavendelzimmer” – “The Little Paris Bookshop”) and freelance journalist since 1992, who has published 26 books (novels, mysteries and non-fiction) as well as over hundred short stories and more than 600 columns. George has worked as a cop reporter, columnist and managing editor for a wide range of German publications, including Hamburger Abendblatt, Die Welt, Der Hamburger, “politik und kultur” as well as TV Movie and Federwelt. Georges writes also under three pen-names, producing Provence-based mystery novels.
In 2012 and 2013 she won the DeLiA and the Glauser-Prize. In 2013 she had her first bestselling book ‘The Little Paris BookShop‘, translated into 30 languages and sold more than 800.000 copies.
WWB “Book Wise’ Pow-Wow: Wednesday, November 18, 2016
Lauroly Introduction & Review: I am so thrilled and honored to be able to talk to Nina George about her book “The Little Paris Bookshop’. ‘Book Wise’ is a new Book Club with a modest following, and it is exciting to have an International Best Selling author join us for a personal interview! I of course found her book to be absolutely perfect! I just had to select it for WWB’s ‘Book Wise’ Fall Pick. It is perfect because it speaks to everything World Wise Beauty cares about. Books, wisdom, travel and culture. But more importantly it speaks to WWB’s main interest–wellness culture. The Little Paris Bookshop is after all, a book about healing and the power of books to help us heal. How many of us have stumbled upon a book that seemed to offer just the right words to help you ‘feel’ and process a difficult time in our life.
I will say, this book was a serendipitous and healing gift to me. My Mom is in the late stage of cancer, and with hospice care I have been watching her die slowly right in my home. There are no words to really describe this experience and I know there are so many people in the world that have cared for their sick parents too. Yet I feel alone in this experience, and almost like I am locked away in a glass chamber, and no-one on the outside can understand. But this book, cut through the glass and has helped me ‘live’ with the scary feelings I am experiencing. Isn’t that amazing? In life we sometimes feel like we are the only one who is going through a difficult time or feeling uncomfortable feelings. We open a book and suddenly we are no longer behind the invisible glass we have created for ourselves. Books really are a gateway to the world and truly can reach the innerscape of our souls. I am thankful for finding this book because it touched me emotionally and also enchanted me with its ‘sense of place’ ( France). I hope everyone enjoys reading this book as much as I did. ‘The Little Paris Bookshop’ is a treat and the words ‘Literary Apothecary’ will be your new wellness prescription! As a teaser, here is a review from Nina’s Press Page, I thought really captured the essence of this book:
“Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, Nina George’s impressionistic prose takes the reader on a journey not just through the glories of France and the wonders of books, but through the encyclopedic panoply of human emotions. The Little Paris Bookshop is a book whose palette, textures, and aromas will draw you in and cradle you in the redemptive power of love.”
Charlie Lovett, author of The Bookman’s Tale
Welcome Nina: I must say, it was interesting to research you and learn more about your background. I discovered that you have been a professional writer for over 20 years, and have been writing under a pen name ‘Anne West’ about issues of love, sexuality, and eroticism. Intriguing! You also have written detective stories with your husband. How interesting and curious to create a completely different kind of novel, and it become an International best-seller! I couldn’t help but think of Louisa May Alcott and her ‘Jo March’ character and draw a comparison. Alcott wrote many books but it was her semi-autobiographical book ‘Little Women’ that became her best seller, because she literally wrote from her heart. Let’s get the readers up to speed, so they know what I am referring to…
Lauroly Q- On your Wiki page, it says you wrote this book right after your father’s death. It is amazing how grief and especially the death of a parent opens us up in ways we could never imagine. How did your grief inform your writing of this book? It must be hard to share this story with the world. Thank you for sharing with us a very personal experience…
© Photo Maurice Kohl © Nina George
Three things happened at once just as I was about to begin researching my story in Provence.
My father died. He was my best friend and a mirror of myself. I lost a disc in my neck; the pain in my nape, my back and my arm was so piercing that it nearly drove me nuts. And Jean Perdu the piano tuner vanished for a year – and reappeared as a bookseller. When, after a year of pain and mourning, I finally dared look inside myself to see what was left of the writer I’d been and of myself, I found someone who wanted to write about something important to her, something important to me. I immortalized my father as Jean Perdu’s father. The book took me two and a half years to think up, but only thirty-one days to write. And then twenty more to go through the edited version.
I’m a person who reacts strongly, but less so to words than to landscapes, the feel of a room, a town, a cemetery or a shop. I get to know a person better if I may sense them out in silence than if I just read or listen to them. It’s taken me twenty-two years of writing to understand that I need to write stories so I don’t overflow with all the sensations I absorb in passing. I am filled with the feelings of other people, unknown houses and distant lands. It’s as if I were a catalyst that converts the world into stories, and transforms into stories the emotions people can’t understand or see in themselves. And I write to hear what I feel, to see what I think and to explore the meaning of my life – and the meaning of why we humans are as we are. I am a translator of the soul.
Lauroly Q- It sounds like grief was your catalyst. It is so heart-wrenching to lose a parent and especially when we are close. Perhaps in writing this book, you excavated deep within you, something that needed to be expressed, and most importantly understood for yourself. What books were life-changing for you? You give us a wonderful treat at the end of the book. It’s a real ‘Literary Pharmacy’ from your main character in the book. Is there one book you would read over and over?
Books are the most important thing in the world. For it is from books that humans learn to be human. They learn courage, love and compassion, and about other cultures. They learn to get angry, to behave themselves and to fight; they learn to think for themselves. Readers are the saviours of the world; they make it warm, loving, understanding, tolerant and complex.Books heal. The Elegance of the Hedgehog
healed me I was finally able to weep. Harold Fry and Smithy Ide healed me. Anna Gavalda and Jon Stefansson healed me. I’ve lived in books ever since I was a baby. It was only in their presence that I could find peace. I could read before I went to school, and books are my friends, my family, my exile and my love. I think that books are about more than fame, popularity and power. And as I began to write about those things, I suddenly saw a path leading straight to myself and to the story of Jean Perdu.
Lauroly Q- I can see that this book was very cathartic for you. You are German but you wrote a book which is really a lovely homage to France. It was so wonderful to travel through France with your character Monsieur Perdu. What inspired you to tell this story through a French character and lens?
Photo Credit: Provencetoujours
During my research I naturally went to Provence
. Many of the places and a handful of the characters are real, for example in Bonnieux or Sanary-sur-Mer. I raced back and forth through the mountains of Provence at great speed, 1,000 miles, looking for places where I would feel “it”. Writing’s not just about craft; there’s also a semi-magical grey zone when the story tells me what it wants to write where, and not the other way around. I had the feeling that I’d hit exactly the right spot in Bonnieux and Sanary-sur-Mer. Coincidentally, my husband and I came up with the initial idea for our joint crime series on that trip, in Mazan, and we invented a new detective duo of a cat and a Marseille-based narcotics agent called Jean Bagnol. So I “found” two books on that one trip – it was unplanned, and all the more thrilling for it.
Rue Montagnard doesn’t exist: I named it after a French smear-ripened cheese. I came up with the idea of a ship full of books as I was sailing to New York on the Queen Mary II. It has the world’s largest floating library containing 8,000 books. That’s how many Jean Perdu has on board his floating Literary Apothecary, the pharmacie littéraire. Like Perdu, it was in Bonnieux that I first realized that life never ends, that we remain in everything we love. One day, after my death, I will live on in books, maybe as a full stop or a page.
Lauroly Closing: What a beautiful muse you had in Provence. French smeared cheese! I love it! I can’t wait for your next book. Thank you so much for joining me here Nina and for sharing your ‘joie de vivre’ and wisdom with us. I will be throwing a Book Wise Pow-Wow in November so readers can come together to discuss your book. Maybe you can join me again for a LIVE-CHAT with the readers? I know you are probably busy doing book tours but it would be lovely to have you join us for a chat in late November. We can wish! 😉