Books: Love Letters
● By Aimee Cormier
By Ray Saadi—Book Editor
THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP By Nina George, Crown $25
Monsieur Jean Perdu sells books from a converted barge docked on Paris’ Seine River dubbed the “Literary Apothecary.” From here his prescience allows him to diagnose ill patrons and expertly prescribe the cure with the perfect book from “La Pharmacie Litteraire.” Unfortunately, Perdu cannot cure the pain he himself suffers since Manon, the woman he loved, left him suddenly 20 years before. She left behind only a sealed letter that he has stubbornly refused to read. That is, until a new woman, Catherine, comes into his life and convinces him to open and read it. The letter devastates Perdu as Manon confesses her love for him, that she is ill, and pleads with him to come to her in Avignon. Even 20 years have passed Perdu impulsively undocks his barge and steers southward joined by Max, a young bestselling author suffering writer’s block and Cuneo, a lovelorn chef. Together they find unexpected companionship in the villages and towns of southern France still not knowing if Perdu can shed his grief for Manon and embrace life again.
THE HUMMINGBIRD By Stephen P. Kiernan, William Morrow $25.99
This is the heartwarming story of Deborah Birch, a seasoned hospice nurse who struggles with life on two fronts; attempting to reignite her loving marriage with her husband, Michael, who’s just returned, distant and unreachable, from his third deployment to Iraq; and her attempts to care for and comfort Barclay Reed, a retired history professor dying of liver cancer. An intriguing third story is told through the professor’s last and unpublished book on the Japanese bombing of Oregon in WWII. Michael is filled with guilt over his killing of several Iraqis whose faces he saw and can’t forget. Debbie never gives up on him even willing to sacrifice her life to save him. The professor, embittered by an undeserved disgrace, his many books removed from University shelves, has Debbie read to him his last book about the pilot who dropped four incendiary bombs on the Oregon forest, chapters interspersed, but somehow related, to her marital problem. Beautifully written and a heartening contemplation on death and optimistic assurance of life.