by Liam Callanan, Penguin Random
Paris by the Book
by Liam Callanan, Penguin Random House
Paris by the Book has been a great novel. Full-bodied, charming and intriguing.
From the pen of Liam Callanan this story starts quietly, the premises are a beautiful happy family, a dream to be realized and a creative work with which everyone has learned to live together.
However, at some point the family balance built with difficulty according to Robert’s needs, a writer, collapses miserably, because of his disappearance.
This event marks a new beginning for Leah, Robert’s wife, she is now a lonely woman, a mother with two daughters, forced to swallow her tears and anger so as not to give in to despair.
How could Robert leave them? Leah does not accept this disappearance, does not give peace and retraces their couple life to understand the man she loved and continues to love despite everything.
Police investigations reveal to be useless, until one morning Leah accidentally finds flight tickets to Paris in a cereal box. What does this discovery mean? Has she to leave everything and go to Paris looking for a father, a husband, a writer who left behind this tiny clue? What is the right choice to make?
Bravely Leah flies to Paris with her daughters. Paris has always represented the dream of the whole family, especially if one grows with Lamorisse’s and Bemelmans’ books from an early age, so much so that they become stable family members.
Expectations are very high, but the city does not repay their love and their hopes. There is no trace of Robert, nowhere mentioned in Lamorisse’s and Bemelamans’ books; the truth is that they are tired of looking for someone who does not want to be found and believing in the possibility of his departure at the moment is impossible.
The circumstances evolve quickly, there are decisions to be made and dreams to be realized, and, thanks to destiny, Leah will find herself living in Paris to managing a small library. Leah is learning to accept Robert’s lack, but her daughters don’t give up, every day they look for their father, scanning hidden corners of the city that has made them dream so much and that has now welcomed them in the harder moment of their lives.
A simple story with the sole purpose of surprising the reader with lots of mysteries. Each piece is added carefully, delicately, carefully.
Leah’s new life in a foreign country was certainly her most difficult test: new job, friendships and experiences all to be renewed in a city that feels more and more its own, yet this new beginning is studded with the certainty that Robert is observing them, some signs reveal his presence. Subtle signs that only a partner can grasp, feel, remember.
And Leah remembers their unique and unrepeatable love, the man who was, a loving father for their daughters and attentive to their needs, an authentic man, sometimes bizarre and often closed in on himself, wrapped in a strange anxiety and influenced by inspiration, certainly not a perfect man, but who can be said to be truly perfect in this world?
Novel characterized by a mysterious plot built on the atmosphere of Albert Lamorisse’s (French director, film producer and writer, best known for his award-winning short films, the most famous “Le ballon rouge” of 1956) and Ludwig Bemelmans’ (writer and painter German-American, best known for the series of children’s books “Madeline”, a perfect background that reflects the path of acceptance and rebirth of Leah and her daughters) works.
Paris by the Book is an intense journey, as exciting as life with all its facets, never simple, but which deserves to be lived in any case.
I recommend everyone to read this novel by Liam Callanan, sometimes challenging, but beautiful because different and wisely written by an author who know how to identify himself gracefully into the shoes of a mother, a daughter and a dreamer.
Special thanks also goes to Callanan for having introduced me to the world of Lamorisse’s and Bemelmans’ works, I will be eternally grateful to him for this.
Sometimes living like in a novel is the only way to find happiness.
When eccentric novelist Robert Eady abruptly vanishes, he leaves behind his wife, Leah, their daughters, and, hidden in an unexpected spot, plane tickets to Paris.
Hoping to uncover clues—and her husband—Leah sets off for France with her girls. Upon their arrival, she discovers an unfinished manuscript, one Robert had been writing without her knowledge…and that he had set in Paris. The Eady women follow the path of the manuscript to a small, floundering English-language bookstore whose weary proprietor is eager to sell. The whole store? Today? Yes, but Leah’s biggest surprise comes when she hears herself accepting the offer on the spot.
As the family settles into their new Parisian life, they can’t help but trace the literary paths of some beloved Parisian classics, including Madeline and The Red Balloon, hoping more clues arise. But a series of startling discoveries forces Leah to consider that she may not be ready for what solving this mystery might do to her family—and the Paris she thought she knew.
At once haunting and charming, Paris by the Book follows one woman’s journey as her story is being rewritten, exploring the power of family and the magic that hides within the pages of a book.
The author LIAM CALLANAN
Liam Callanan was born in Washington and raised in Los Angeles. Writer, journalist and he serves in the English department of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he was a finalist in the Edgar Award and in 2017 he won the Hunt Prize. He is the creator and co-producer of Poetry Everywhere, a series of animated shorts that spread poetry on screens on public transport. He currently lives with his wife and daughters near Milwaukee.