The Paris Library
by Janet Skeslien Charles
In 1939, Odile Souchet is working her dream job at the American Library in Paris. She loves being surrounded by books, co-worker friends, and wonderful subscribers (patrons) including her boyfriend who shows up on a regular basis. When the Nazis occupy the city, the library director, Miss Reeder, cannot guarantee the safety of the collections, employees or patrons. Soon the Nazis dictate who cannot use the library, especially French Jews, and what materials can be available.
Much later in 1983, Odile is living in rural Montana. 7th grader Lily Jacobsen befriends her elderly neighbor. Odile becomes Lily’s confidant and support when her mother becomes ill and dies. At times Odile’s home becomes an escape after Lily’s father remarries and she has two brothers to help take care of. Regrettably Lily snoops through Odile’s things, and their friendship is almost destroyed. By invading Odile’s privacy Lily uncovers decades old secrets.
The novel is based on some historical facts. Dorothy M. Reeder was the director of the American Library. During WWII, the library did manage to stay open. It started the “Soldiers’ Service”, providing books and magazines to British and French troops. When Jews were barred from the library, Miss Reeder and her staff personally delivered materials to them putting themselves at great risk.
This is a great book for lovers of historical fiction.