I'm a total sucker for World War II historical fiction, so when the publisher offered me a Netgalley of The Paris Library, it was a no brainer.
As the war wears on, Odile finds that she doesn't know anyone as well as she thought she did, including herself. Slowly Odile's eyes are opened to the cold realities of the wartime world even as her blinders to her own privilege fall away. Unfortunately, when stubborn, outspoken Odile, causes irreparable harm with just a few thoughtless words, her life takes on an unexpected trajectory.
In more modern day Montana, Lily endures a tragedy at home and takes refuge in her newfound friendship with the town's outsider, Odile. Together the two will finish the learning the same lessons that Odile began to learn in wartime Paris. Together they'll learn the power of forgiveness and what it means to truly put yourself in someone else's shoes.
Admittedly, I've been a little tired of the dual narrative historical fiction with a modern day perspective thrown in, but I warmed to it over the course of the book. What's remarkable about this plot device in The Paris Library is that the modern day perspective really pulls its own weight and doesn't become an interlude to hurry away from to get back to the historical story. Lily is an honest, genuine character and her budding friendship with and curiosity about Odile provides a generous framework for the historical story.
Charles beautifully brings to life her Paris Library characters who are based on the real people who heroically kept the library open through the years of the occupation. She excellently captures their comradery and the magic of the place Odile loves so much. Odile herself is a bewilderingly naive character that it took me a little work to like, but as the story proceeds, her coming of age, while slow, is ultimately believable.
The Paris Library should satisfy World War II fiction lovers and book lovers alike.