As for why the books are set there, it’s simply because it was while I was in Paris that I had the idea for “The Bookseller.” Sheer good luck, you might call it. My wife and I were walking beside the Seine and we stopped at a stall. For whatever reason, my mind started working and I wondered if and why someone might want to kidnap or murder a bouquiniste. Once the gray cells got to work the idea quickly formed, and we dashed to a nearby tabac to buy a pen and paper so I could write it down. In a café, sipping coffee of course. Now, some people have claimed I set the books in Paris as an excuse to visit every year, which is clearly a terrible fabrication and nothing I would ever consider doing…
This is the 3rd Edward Rutherford novel I’ve read and it certainly won’t be the last. He’s a great story teller and I love the concept of his books however PARIS tapped into my biggest book problem: I can’t keep track of that many characters! And unlike the other 2 novels I read: and because the story is not told in chronological order it just made it impossible for me.
Travel writer Jan Morris calls your book “perhaps the most evocative American book about Paris since A Moveable Feast.” High praise! Hemingway’s book focused on his years in Paris as part of a large group of expatriate American writers. Do you find there is still an expat literary community in Paris? What does being an American writer in Paris mean to you today?
What was so special about this original Shakespeare and Co. bookstore was that it was not just a place where people could buy and borrow books in Paris, but it also held historical value as the place where famous legendary writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Ford Madox Ford gathered in 1920s.