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
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.
- 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?
Questions About Literary Elements
- Loss is a significant theme of this novel. How do the characters deal with loss in contrasting ways? How do you remember people you have lost?
- This book was originally written in German. How would you describe the flow of the language? What passages do you find particularly appealing or particularly distracting? What might a translator need to consider in order to make a book appealing in a second language?
- How important is physical setting to this novel? What would change given a different location? Is the time of this novel important?
Personal Response Questions
- How does Monsieur Perdu use books in his literary apothecary? Do you think it works? Would you like to be a customer of Monsieur Perdu's? Have you ever recommended a book to someone in this fashion?
- This novel contains many descriptions of reading, of books, and of the value of each. Which definition most appeals to you? Which do you disagree with? If you were to add your own statement about books or reading, what would it be?
- What is the difference between loving and being loved? Which do you think is harder? What do the characters in the novel say about this?
- What piece of advice do you take away from this novel? How do you think the author intends to influence your thinking? What would be Jean Perdu's message to those who might read about him?
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