Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

I'm a sucker for novels about bookshops. Add in Paris and a few love stories, and this was the book to read leading up to Valentine's Day. 

The Little Bookshop on the Seine was a fun read--the perfect kind to take you away from the cold nights and gloomy days of a Midwest winter. Sarah Smith is a young bookshop owner in the charming town of Ashford. She's absolutely in love with books and reading, and spends all of her days and nights wrapped in her bookish life. 

And that's the problem. Business has been slow, and she's a bit worried. She's been corresponding with Sophie, a bookshop  owner in Paris. They've got a firm friendship, and one day Sophie calls Sarah with a proposition: they swap shops for six months. Sophie wants to escape a heartbreak, and Sarah needs some adventure. 

Lickety-split, Sarah is arriving in Paris, and steps into the bookshop with all sorts of rose-colored ideas of what life will be like managing the bookshop for the next six months. 

She's wrong. Really wrong. Sophie's bookshop, called Once Upon a Time, is a big tourist draw, and is constantly busy. It's in a decrepit old building that has plenty of issues, and has floors of books every which way. A staff that doesn't much care for Sarah's attempts at organization, and a heck of a lot of paperwork soon have Sarah exhausted, near tears, and wondering if she made a mistake. 

To top all that off, her hunky boyfriend Ridge is playing phone tag with her as he travels around as a freelance journalist. Their love is pretty strong, but can it survive her living in Paris for six months, and him flying around the world? Sarah's so caught up in the bookshop she's not able to even see Paris. 

Most of the book is about Sarah's hard adjustments to managing the bookshop and speaking up. Her relationship with Ridge is teetering, and she's heartbroken that the man she loves may be putting his career before their relationship. But, just as it seems all is falling apart, Sarah slowly begins to find her feet, make some hard business decisions, and find friendships that lead her to exploring and falling in love with Paris. And her relationship with Ridge? Well, she hasn't given up hope completely. 

The cast of characters at the bookshop slowly became more fleshed out as the story moved along. I especially enjoyed her friendship with Oceane, a beautiful and sophisticated coworker,  and Luis, the famous author who comes in every day to write upstairs in solitude. 

It's a definite "take me away" kind of story. Sarah is a bit too wide-eyed at the beginning, and goes from someone who never flew on a plane to someone who's pretty darn comfortable wandering the streets of Paris on her own. She seems to find herself pretty darn quickly once she lands in Paris. All in all, it was a fun read with a few threads of romance to keep everything percolating along. 

Only one thing really had me a bit perplexed: it seemed as though I was dropped in the middle of Sarah and Ridge's romance. I felt like I missed something, because they were already a couple when the book started. There is a first novel, but it looks like it's only available as an ebook in the U.S. 

However! There was a bonus story at the end of this book that is all about the beginning of their love story. Aha! But darn it- it looks like this is only included in the paperback version of the novel, and not the hardcover. 

I needed a romantic novel and this certainly fit the bill. I hope to read more of Rebecca Raisin's novels. Fans of Jenny Colgan will enjoy this one. Who can resist a bookstore in Paris? Not me! 

Rating: 3/6 for an entertaining romantic novel about the magic of bookshops, Paris, love, and friendships both old and new. Sometimes adventure brings out the best part of you--so get going! 

Available in hardcover, paperback, ebook and audio book. 

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