Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Janet Skeslien Charles shares her library...plus a book giveaway

Photo by Richard Beban
We are pleased to have Janet Skeslien Charles back at CLC today. The last time she was here was in 2010, to talk about Moonlight in Odessa. This time around, she has a new novel, The Paris Library, publishing in a week from today. We are excited to read it soon and thanks to Atria, we have TWO copies to give away. 

Janet Skeslien Charles is the award-winning author of Moonlight in Odessa and The Paris Library. Her shorter work has appeared in revues such as Slice and Montana Noir. She learned about the history of the American Library in Paris while working there as the programs manager. She divides her time between Montana and Paris. (Bio courtesy of Janet's website.)

Visit Janet online:

Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife.

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—
The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
I interviewed the children of Boris Netchaeff, the head librarian of the American Library in Paris during the war. Boris’s son said that I captured his father and the spirit of the Library. That meant a lot.

Writing this book took years. It has been a decade since my first book Moonlight in Odessa came out. One day, a long time after the novel had come out, you featured it in a Throwback Thursday post, and that made my day! It gave me the energy to keep writing.

What was your inspiration behind The Paris Library?
I have long been fascinated by war brides. Growing up, one of my neighbors was a war bride from France, and I was absolutely in awe of her courage. She left behind her friends and family to start a new life. As you know, women starting over is a theme that is dear to my heart. 

I also wanted to tell the story of the brave librarians who defied the Nazis in order to hand-deliver books to Jewish readers. I wanted to show how the American Library in Paris created and continues to create community. The two story lines came together.

If The Paris Library were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
I think that the current director would make a wonderful Miss Reeder. They are both strong, glamorous, intelligent women. I love this Then and Now photo.

What is something you've learned about yourself during the pandemic?
I learned that it doesn’t bother me to stay inside for long periods of time. I also didn’t realize how active I was before lockdown – just going from meeting to meeting, I walked several miles. This spring when we could only be outside one hour per day, I realized it’s necessary to make time to exercise. I started taking a Zoom yoga class. I am looking forward to the day when we can travel and see loved ones again. Thank goodness for books – they allowed us to travel when we must stay home.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
Bel Canto is my all-time favorite book. I am reading Bones of the Moon right now and enjoying it. It is a gift from a friend. She loved it so much that for a long time, she carried it with her everywhere she went.  

What is your favorite thing about Valentine's Day?
Chocolate! I love receiving cards as well. In France, Valentine’s Day is celebrated between couples, not with family members and friends. I learned this (the hard way) when I taught at a French school and slid friendly Valentine’s Day cards into coworkers’ lockers. It was a Friday, and some of them spent the weekend thinking I had a crush on them! 

Thank you for taking the time to interview me, Melissa! I hope that your readers will enjoy spending time in The Paris Library!

Thanks to Janet for chatting with us and to Atria for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Giveaway ends February 7th at midnight EST.


Cori said...

I love exploring books with my kids at the library. So fun to see their excitement at finding new books they want to read!

Melissa said...

The variety of books my local library offers!

Carla S. said...

I love browsing new books and suggestions for reading.

Michelle L said...

My local library has such a friendly staff, and, they do book drives/sales events several times a year to raise money. I love to donate books as much as I love buying some gently used books at a great price.

Padmini Rao said...

I love walking around the library and looking at all the beautiful book covers.

traveler said...

I enjoy seeing the book displays and just browsing through the stacks. I derive such enjoyment from this simple but special visit.

Jess said...

I love everything about my local library! Huge variety of books, magazines, DVDs, CDs. Lots of computers, great kids' area etc. They're only open for curbside right now and I miss going in so much:(

Mary Patricia Bird said...

Libraries are heaven on earth. Just can't get enough of books.

diannekc said...

I love libraries. Our library is close to the house and very convenient.

Terri. said...

I love my library. They are great about getting new books quickly.

Rita Wray said...

I live in a small town and the library is close enough to my house that I can walk there. The people who work there are always very nice and helpful.

Mary C said...

I enjoy talking to the librarians about books and the classes that are held there.

Jeanne said...

My library has a wonderful assortment of programs for the entire community.

Mary Preston said...

I love that I can reserve and just do a quick pick up.

bn100 said...

so many books

Jeanna said...

This may be weird, but I love the smell of my library!

Peggy Russo said...

I love the quiet and browsing. I always find new authors to read.

Pamela said...

When I walk into my local library, several of the staff know me and never fail to greet me warmly. I have received many fabulous book recommendations from these librarians, and have loved given them recommendations to pass along to other patrons in return.

Nancy P said...

As a kid, the library was like my second home. When my kids were young, I brought them & unfortunately they weren't very welcoming & made the experience really difficult. Sadly, I haven't been back in decades. I continued my love of books in different ways & with the internet, it makes it endless. But what I do love about my local library is that it gets used frequently by the seniors in my community.

Summer said...

Being able to read ebooks rather than having to go in to the library right now has been a blessing even if I do prefer physical books.

Nancy said...

I like that the local library has a summer reading program - for adults!

allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Tatum Rangel said...

I liked when my library would have the occasional author events.

rubynreba said...

I love that our local library is only a block away from our house!

Anonymous said...

I love our library do well organized and it has a lot of the books I love to read. Linda May

Kelley B said...