Jean Perdu owns a bookstore housed in a boat moored on the Seine river in Paris. Perdu prescribes books to his clients like a pharmacist recommends drugs – take in only that which is good for you and in prescribed doses. Perdu innately knows what ails folks and what book will provide the healing they need. Unfortunately, like the best of superheroes, Monsieur Perdu is unable to find the book that will be the balm to his own broken heart. Then he reads something, a letter, that makes him realise that he’s been wrong all this time, and he heads off on an adventure to find his beloved.
I am a fast and voracious reader – consuming whole books in one or two sittings. I had intended to read this book in the same way I have every other – quickly and with minimal fuss. But Monsieur Perdu prescribes his books a few pages at a time and I felt compelled to honour his wishes for how one should read:
“You need your own room. Not too bright, with a kitten to keep you company. And this book, which you will please read slowly, so you can take the occasional break. You’ll do a lot of thinking and probably a bit of crying. For yourself. For the years. But you’ll feel better afterwards.”
“Read this. Three pages every morning before breakfast, lying down. It has to be the first thing you take in. In a few weeks you won’t feel quite so sore – it’ll be as though you no longer have to atone for your success with writer’s block.”
“That Gray was so amusing, it only took me two hours. But if I were Dorian, I’d never have looked at that picture. It’s depressing. And they can’t have had botox back then.” “Madame Gulliver, Oscar Wilde spent six years writing it. He was later sentenced to prison and died a short time afterwards. Didn’t he deserve a little more than two hours of your time?”
I appreciated this book for its bookishness, its beautiful quotes, and its gentle flow. It’s rhythm is exactly right for a book about a writer and a bookseller sailing down a river on a floating library. Much like The Alchemist or The Celestine Prophecy, the story wasn’t really what made this book for me. This book made me think about life, regret, and being kind to myself. And Tango!! There are many great quotes in the story and my favourite parts of the book were the parts about books!
I know some people didn’t connect with the storyline. I didn’t either, but I don’t mind. This is philosophy-lite told through books, tango, and the river. I enjoyed it immensely and would recommend it to anyone who can handle reading this kind of book where the story comes second. But you must read it slowly… and preferably with a kitten.