Monday, March 13, 2023

The Forgotten Bookshop in Paris by Daisy Wood

Jacques & Mathilde and Kevin & Juliette: two couples living separate lives at different times in history. One couple has been torn apart by a world war, the other torn apart by a personal one. The Forgotten Bookshop offers a glimpse at these parallel stories that take place more than eighty years apart. 

Jacques & Mathilde, were a young couple madly in love and full of hopes, dreams, and ideals until France was invaded and their way of life became threatened. Jacques, a bookstore owner must deal with ever-increasing regulations and rules and the implied threats from the Germans who regularly visit to ensure his compliance. Mathilde on the other hand cannot sit idly by and joins the resistance. Upon her arrest, Jacques is left alone and faces questions of where his loyalties should lie. 

Kevin and Juliette living in the present time have been on holiday in France. Guided by a painting of a French scene, Juliette is hoping to find out more about her French grandmother. And just as they prepare to head home to America, Juliette discovers a secret that threatens to change the course of her life. Deciding to stay in France while Kevin returns home, Juliette begins a journey of discovering not only her grandmother's past but the discovery of her own present and future. 

The circumstances each of these couples faced were entirely different. The book focuses on Jacques' perspective through several years of not knowing whether his wife was alive or dead. And in the modern-day story, readers follow Juliette as she navigates a new country, new friends, and the new dream of reviving a bookshop that has long been forgotten. 

I really enjoyed the alternating storylines between the past and the present. The contrast between the two couples was immense but the determination to carry on in the midst of adversity and dashed dreams was inspiring. But I was deeply disappointed in the moral choices that some of the characters made. One spouse's unfaithfulness does not justify another's immorality and made me less sympathetic to the originally wounded party. Unfortunately, that portion of the storyline makes me hesitant to recommend this book unreservedly to others.   

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of The Forgotten Bookshop from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

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