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Guest Review from Musings of a Bookshop Girl

 Thursday, 14 October 2010

Even though I have had to cut Favourites Fortnight short I still have to post the Guest Review that Ellie from Musings of a Bookshop Girl did for me because it's bloody awesome and you need to read it!

Take it away Ellie!

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Hi LadyViolet readers!  I'm so chuffed to be over here sharing some fangirl excitement for one of my fave books of all time, the wonderfully titled BOOKS, BAGUETTES AND BEDBUGS (US Title - Time was Soft There) by Jeremy Mercer.  How could I not love it really - it's the story of a man who lived in a bookshop for a year!  IN PARIS!  Plus it helped inspire me when it came to setting up our own bookshop...  Here's my review:
On the run from an unfortunate mistake in his Canadian life as a crime journalist, Jeremy Mercer heads to Paris to escape for a while.  Caught in a rainstorm near Notre-Dame one afternoon, he spots a welcoming light across the river and thus stumbles inadvertently on the Shakespeare and Company bookshop.  Invited upstairs for tea by the beautiful woman behind the desk, wandering the labyrinth of books and beds, he soon realises that this is no ordinary bookshop and, as a poor writer, is invited to join the ranks of lost souls inhabiting the book-lined rooms.
So begins his whimsical and quintessentially bohemian stay, under the watchful eye of eccentric owner George Whitman (surely the star of the book, with his fascinating life and Communist ideals), who renamed his unique store after the original literary oasis, run by his good friend Sylvia Beach, which was forced to close down during the Second World War.  Here all are welcome to browse and lose themselves in their reading; tea is offered on a Sunday; eclectic readings take place in the library; literary and political opinions are argued out – and those in need of a bed will find one amongst the books in return for a few hours helping around the shop and in the kitchen.
Mercer deliciously evokes days trawling the scattered tomes, nights spent storytelling by the Seine, tourists attracted by the store’s reputation, wanderers attracted by Whitman’s generosity, showering in the public washhouses, scrounging leftover food to get by: in short, a poor life, without good facilities or scope for wastage of any kind, but a happy, lively life nonetheless.  The characters moving through Whitman’s utopia are many and varied, yet he remains, a kind of rock in the tides of time and tourism, as the chaos of youthful dreams and books and wine whirls around him.  
Of course, eventually reality bites for Mercer and it’s time to move on – but his journey is magical while it lasts, and there's lots of interesting ideas to think about and lessons to be learned from this amazing place.  If you like the sound of all this there's a brilliant documentary called 'A Portrait of the Bookstore as an Old Man' which is well worth watching!  This really the perfect book lover's book, especially if you like haunting ramshackle old bookshops, so consider this a shout out for book bloggers everywhere to go find a copy and spread the love!

Ellie's Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Ellie sent me the link to the documentary which is nearly an hour long so I won't force people to sit staring at my blog for that amount of time :P If you wanna watch it here you go- A Portrait of the Bookstore as an Old Man

After looking at pictures of this place I'm sorely tempted to ring up and ask if *I* can live there for my year abroad cos frankly nothing would make me happier than spending several months surrounded by books and the people who love them. 

A big thanks to Ellie for doing this review for me and anyone who *hasn't* seen Ellie's blog well shame on you! Get over there now! She has awesomely eclectic taste in books and she runs a freaking bookshop! She does the most hilarious posts on the weird and wonderful customers she gets and has a book-buying habit that would put most of us to shame :P 



Jessheartsbooks 14 October 2010 at 20:21  

Sounds like an excellent book. I've wish-listed it - may make a good christmas present me thinks *hint hint* ;)

The Golden Eagle 14 October 2010 at 21:42  

I love the sound of that book--I'll have to look into it some more! Great review/guest post!

Ellie 15 October 2010 at 10:01  

EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT! It helped inspire me when it came to opening our bookshop, and it's such a wonderfully eccentric, bookish tale... That vid's worth watching too - Jeremy Mercer actually appears in it at one point, when they're putting on some madcap Shakespeare recital outside the shop! Thanks for the invite Rach! :-)

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