Right from the start with Nina George’s dedication of the book to her father I was under the spell of this novel. First published in German, it illustrates how beautiful language can be; nothing was lost in the translation. Some may find this tale a little fanciful, but this is one reason why I enjoyed it: to be taken on someone else’s journey yet find elements that resonate with me. This book is best read leisurely to savor the beautifully worded passages.
A Literary Apothecary is the name of a book store located on a barge floating on the Seine River in Paris owned by a man named Jean Perdu. His talent lies in his ability to intuit what his customers need to read rather than what they came in to get. Troubled for years mourning a lost love, lost time and a lost opportunity he unmoors his barge to travel to the south of France where his beloved Manon once lived to make peace with his decisions. Unexpectedly joining him is a young man from his apartment building, Max Jordan, who views Jean as a father figure. Max is a first time novelist who has experienced success too soon, too overwhelmingly fast. He is both running from something and running toward something, just like Perdu. Another apartment building resident, Catherine, provides the catalyst for this trek and a renewed sense of hope for the future for Perdu. Along their way on the Seine, Perdu and Max meet others who help guide them and add flavor to their journey.
Nina George has created a winsome, imaginative story deftly wrought. Bonus material at the end of the book includes recipes typical of the Provence region of France and Perdu’s own Emergency Literary Pharmacy title recommendations. The author is also a writer’s rights advocate.