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Bookreporter Talks To

Feb 9, 2021

Janet Skeslien Charles joins us to talk about her historical novel, The Paris Library. While working as the programs manager at The American Library in Paris, she learned the history of the library, which celebrated its centennial last year. Included in its storied history are the heroic librarians who stood up to the Nazis during World War II and smuggled books to those the Nazis deemed undesirable.

The story is told in separate points of view over two periods in time: one in Paris, 1939, and the other in Montana, 1983. In 1939, Odile stands to lose her library when Nazis invade Paris. Banding together, the librarians join the resistance, using books and knowledge to their advantage. In 1983, the teenager Lily becomes friends with her mysterious neighbor, a war bride from Paris, and what she discovers is both intense and revealing.

During the interview, Janet discusses the themes she chose to explore in The Paris Library, including the relevance of the decades-long gap in the story. She talks about how her life in both Montana and Paris influenced the book, and she mentioned some interesting tidbits about how she chose to research the novel in order to keep it both true to real life events and engaging as a story.

Books discussed in this episode:

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

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