Sunday, September 9, 2012

{Review} Chasing Sylvia Beach by Cynthia Morris

ISBN #: 978-0975922439
Page Count: 382
Copyright: June 12, 2012
Publisher: Original Impulse

(Taken from back cover)

Lily Heller's affaire de coeur with Paris has existed almost as long as her love for books. Smitten with the city's literary Golden Age of the twenties, the young bookstore clerk from Denver dreams of a life like that of bold expatriate Sylvia Beach, who founded the famed Shakespeare and Company bookshop and became her own literary legend.

An impromptu trip to the City of Light carries Lily further than her imagination ever took her. Arriving unexpectedly in 1937 Paris - penniless, friendless, and clueless - Lily must rely on her wobbly French and her wits. But a mysterious invitation offers her entree into the glittering inner circle of Sylvia Beach herself. This clue leads her further into the complex and dangerous Paris on the brink of war - and it's not the friendly literary community she had imagined. Lily becomes a character inside the world that she had fantasized about - but with chilling consequences.

In her quest to return home, Lily finds herself enmeshed in an undercover league of time-traveling bibliophiles. Charged with a daunting task, along the way Lily falls for a gallant young Frenchman, discusses the art of writing with Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, and runs afoul of a dashing Nazi agent. In order to escape unscathed, Lily must make choices that force her to reconcile her past and that may revise literary history forever.

A celebration of a timeless city's allure, an engaging romantic fantasy, and a valentine to book lovers in every era, Chasing Sylvia Beach is a novel to savor and be spellbound by.

Charlene's Review:

Lily Heller, a bookshop clerk, takes a trip to Paris after her mother's untimely death. When she arrives, however, she finds herself in the pre-war era of 1937. On the very streets where her heroine, book shop owner and literary legend, Sylvia Beach resides, Lily gets a crash course in the style and mind set of a whole new world. With a few rough starts, she acclimates, while trying to find out how she got there, and how to get back home. While the mystery evolves, Lily has encounters with a new romantic interest, legendary writers, and a few up-and-coming Nazis, while holding the very future of literature in her hands, unwillingly or not.

Ms. Morris takes us into a time period rife with history. The writing was vivid and descriptive throughout, and Lily is a courageous character that brings life to the pages. I found the time travel story far-fetched at first, but it turned into a workable piece of an amazing adventure story. The mystery continued, nearly to the end, and I enjoyed the many surprises Ms. Morris held to the end.

Whether you enjoy novels surrounding Paris, which this so richly described, a good romance, or even a bit of history, you will find something good in these pages. As a debut novel, Ms. Morris set the bar high for herself, and others. The ending left room for a sequel, which I would gladly snatch up and settle in to read. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Paris in the 30s, time travel, literary interests, and well, pretty much anyone!

*A physical copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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