Read on and on . . .
You probably know that I read a lot. I’ve mentioned my multiple library cards, and that my idea of relaxation is reading mystery stories wherein the case is always solved, and the innocent suspect goes free. But once in a while I read a real beauty, which I did the past two days. The book in question: The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher. It’s a fictionalized biography of Sylvia Beach, the owner of Shakespeare and Company, a Paris landmark for readers where James Joyce’s Ulysses was born and raised. Sort of like going to the Parthenon or King Tutt’s tomb, except S&C is a bookstore. The title might have tipped you off, I know. Maher’s book cover boasts “A beautiful ode to Sylvia Beach, the renowned Shakespeare and Company owner, a real-life heroine who has left her mark on us all.” Amen, true.
Having been a bookworm since I was a primary schooler addicted to Nancy Drew mysteries, when I finally had outgrown Nancy Drew I went to Europe, first stop Paris. And yes, of course, I went to S&C. I had to or lose my reader’s license. Of course, Ms. Beach was long dead by the time I got there, and I think the store had been moved to yet a third location. But I also knew that the owner in my generation was a man from Maine, that catty-cornered cold Atlantic-coast state where I lived much of my life. As an expat in Paris, I was sure I would be warmly welcomed, given our commonality. Hah! He could not have been colder were he deep in the Atlantic. But as I read Maher’s novel, I had at least an ounce of comfortable familiarity, and my regret is that I did not buy a book there. That would be a souvenir worth toting around Europe. Maybe next time.