Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ellie Alexander

Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

Alexander's newest novel is Fudge and Jury.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I just finished The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. I picked it up at my favorite bookshop a few months ago because the title struck me as did this introduction: “Monsieur Perdu is a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs. Perdu mends broken hearts and souls.”

How could I not immediately fall in love with a novel centered around the power of books? There’s something magical about the concept of finding the perfect book to heal or transform. It’s as if each of us has a book soulmate. The right words destined to change our lives are floating out there waiting for us to discover them. So I snapped up a copy of The Little Paris Bookshop and couldn’t wait to dive in.

But before I could start reading I had a stack of other books that I had to finish. The Little Paris Bookshop kept calling, but I put it on hold while reviewing a friend’s debut and slogging through a pile of non-fiction research for a new project that I’m working on. In hindsight, I’m glad that I had to wait for the right time to read George’s novel because sometimes books find us exactly when we need them.

The Little Paris Bookshop isn’t a flashy read. In fact, it’s quite slow moving much like it’s protagonist Monsieur Perdu. He has spent his entire life tethered to a dock on the Seine. While he can easily prescribe a book that is guaranteed to change the course of a reader’s life, his own journey has been stagnant. His growth is slow and painful. Grief and loss have left him without a compass, and it’s not until he sets himself free—literally and figuratively—that he’s able to find a new direction.

I loved the quiet pace of this book, the evolution of growth, and the poetic prose. The writing was hauntingly beautiful which is always a feat, but even more so in this case because the original work was written in German and translated into English. I dog-eared several passages that resonated and brought me to tears. The Little Paris Bookshop is a universal story about brokenness and how sometimes a broken heart can crack us open in the best and most unexpected ways. It’s about human connections, a long-lasting love affair with words, and a book that I will return to again and again.
Visit Ellie Alexander's website.

My Book, The Movie: Fudge and Jury.

The Page 69 Test: Fudge and Jury.

--Marshal Zeringue