We all love a good tongue-in-cheek mystery, but this is one that has particular appeal because it is so sumptuous to the book-lover. Any bibliophile who starts reading this book will say ‘at last!’ for it is about the perfect book shop. Imagine a book shop that contains only good novels. Put together by an elite panel, any novel that is not great will not be sold. I read this book how I read Enid Blighton’s The Magic Sweet Shop as a child.
Rich with characters that could have stepped out of your own street, this novel has a huge amount of reality about it, and yet it doesn’t take itself too seriously, despite the deep ideas that are developed. It is set in present-day Paris, but it is a world that doesn’t exist. It is a world where people are thrilled about bookshops, where gossip magazines write about them, where book-lovers flock together for refuge and friendship, and where it is quite possible to read an entire trilogy in one night.
However, I did find the actual description of the shop and how it came about more interesting than the actual plot, which seemed forced and stale at times. I found the undisclosed narrator a little unnecessary and the ending fell a bit flat for me. There was also something stilted about the language, although that could be just because it has been translated from French and some of the phrases seem rather unnatural.
And yet there was a lot about this novel that was satisfying. Any avid reader will feel akin with the sentiments throughout the pages, and will find themselves nodding at the attitude towards literature. It is a book that makes you want to keep reading, and a book that makes you want to read more. Not necessarily more of this book, but just more of everything. Cosse clearly loves books and bookshops, and I am very glad that she does.