Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Likely Stories : The Little Bookshop on the Seine, by Rebecca Raisin

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Rebecca Raisin is the author of several novels, including the ‘Little Paris’ series.  Her short stories have been published in various anthologies and fiction magazines series.  The Little Bookshop on the Seine is another novel set in a bookshop.

The story begins, Rebecca writes, “With a heavy heart I placed the sign in the display window.  All books 50% off. // If things didn’t pick up soon, it would read Closing down sale.  The thought alone was enough to make me shiver.  The autumnal sky was awash with purples and smudges of orange, as I stepped outside to survey the display window from the sidewalk. // Star shaped leaves crunched underfoot.  I forced a smile.  A sale wouldn’t hurt, and maybe it’d take the bookshop figures from the red into the black—which I so desperately needed.  My rent had been hiked up” (9-10).  Nearly every bookstore has this problem.  Rebecca’s friend Sarah knows.

The pressure continues, Raisin writes, “Imagine if I had to close the shop for good, like so many other shops had in recent times?  It pained me to think people were missing out on the real-life bookshop experience.  Wasn’t it much better when you could step into a dimly lit space, and eke your way around searching for the right novel?  You could run a fingertip along the spines, smell that glorious old book scent, flick them open, and unbend a dog-eared page.  Read someone else’s notes in the margin, or a highlighted passage, and see why that sentence or metaphor had dazzled the previous owner” (14-15).  A word for the wise here—don’t ‘dog-ear’ your pages, but by all means treasure any marginalia that happens to fall your way!  To continue, “Books were fussy when it came to their owners, and gave off a type of sound, and almost imperceptible whirr, when the right person was near.  Most people weren’t aware that books choose us, at the time when we needed them most” (14-15).

Sarah gets a letter from a friend in Paris.  Sophie writes she must leave Paris and return to the US.  She wants to swap bookstores for an unknown time.  The two agree.  “It was as though the city of lights had pulled out all the stops on my first morning here.  The air was fragrant with promise.  I riffled through my backpack, searching for sunglasses.  My face was split with a cheesy grin. // I was really here!  Paris!  And so far, I hadn’t been snatched, mugged, or even scammed, as mom had warned me about four million times before she kissed me goodbye.  Rolling my suitcase along, stifling a yawn, I made my way to the ticket booth to ask where the train station was” (41).

Rebecca Raisin embarks on a wonderful adventure in The Little Bookshop on the Seine.  Anyone who visited the city of lights—or who wants to visit Paris—will find this adventure thrilling.  5 Stars!

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and happy reading!

Life-long voracious reader, Jim McKeown, is an English Instructor at McLennan Community College. His "Likely Stories" book review can be heard every Thursday on KWBU-FM! Reviews include fiction, biographies, poetry and non-fiction. Join us for Likely Stories every Thursday featured during Morning Edition and All Things Considered with encore airings Saturday and Sunday during Weekend Edition.