The Little Paris Bookshop Discussion Questions

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany is a certified Special Education and Elementary teacher with 11 years experience teaching Special Education from grades PK through 5. She has a Bachelor's degree in Special Education, Elementary Education, and English from Gordon College and a Master’s degree in Special Education from Salem State University.

'The Little Paris Bookshop' is a reader's treat, combining an intelligent love of books with an emotionally thoughtful story. This set of questions includes pre- and post-reading questions to deal with the story, literary elements, and personal responses to the novel. Updated: 11/04/2019

The Little Paris Bookshop

Monsieur Jean Perdu runs a bookshop, the Literary Apothecary, from his barge. He cures people's problems through books, using simple questions to assess a person's emotional state and give them the perfect book. One thing he cannot do, however, is face his own emotional hurdles. When a new neighbor forces a look at the past, Monsieur Perdu ends up on a trip down the river with unlikely companions and unexpected results - and finally, his happily ever after. Nina George's The Little Paris Bookshop is a treat for a high school or college world literature class. Explore the novel further together using these discussion questions.

Pre-Reading Questions

  • What expectations do you have for the book based on the title and the cover?
  • How do you help someone who is upset or has had a bad experience? Are you able to use the same methods to help yourself?
  • What do you use books for? What is the value of a book?

Questions About the Story

  • How did Monsieur Perdu feel going into the closed room after 21 years? Why was it closed? How does the opening of the room set up the events of the novel?
  • What attitudes do different characters in the novel have toward love and marriage? Whose attitude do you find most closely mirrors your understanding or experience?
  • In the opening chapter, Monsieur Perdu reflects on the effects of time on each of his neighbors. What tone does this set for the story? What expectations does it give you?
  • What does Perdu regret about the past 21 years? How does he come to the place of regret? How does he deal with it?
  • Why does Max Jordan want to get away? How is what he finds different from what he expected?
  • How does Manon's description of Jean Perdu add to your understanding of his character? How do you think he changed in her absence?
  • How does Cuneo's presence on the boat change the journey?
  • Why is it important for Perdu to find the author Sanary? How was their encounter surprising?
  • What does Perdu do in Sanary to process his grief? Who have you known to behave in a similar fashion? What else have you done or seen people do to go through grief?
  • Do you find Jean Perdu's transformation believable? Why or why not? How likely is Luc's acceptance of Jean?

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