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The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher (Berkley Publishing)

Today, I am over the moon to share with you Kerri Maher’s latest creation, The Paris Bookseller.  Maher brings to life the extraordinary Sylvia Beach.  Beach is known for her famous English language bookstore and lending library, Shakespeare and Company which she opened in 1919 in Paris. But what many may not know is that she (Shakespeare and Company) was the first to publish the book, Ulysses by none other than Irish writer, James Joyce.  Beach was THE champion for Joyce’s highly controversial book and made it her life’s work (at the time) to not only get it published by Joyce’s 40th birthday (February 2, 1922) but to fight for its seriousness in America where it was banned for so long.  Beach was a force to be reckoned with leaving a huge literary stamp on the world for women, writers, and book lovers everywhere.

January 11, 2022

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

You are the gentleman I need to talk to, that’s for sure.  I was giddy with delight when I ran into you in Kerri Maher’s book and equally excited to get to know your friend Sylvia Beach a bit more.  I am very sure you remember her.  After all, you were there from the very beginning of her literary adventure.  You helped Sylvia move boxes when her new store, Shakespeare and Company was just born in Paris. You spent time with her reading, drinking, and even writing in her shop with fellow expatriates.  You watched her work herself to the bone while trying to keep her business afloat while at the same time publishing her first and only book, Ulysses by James Joyce.  You, my friend, are known for “liberating” her famous shop in person in 1944 when Paris was finally freed from the Nazis and the Second World War. How’s that for a greeting?

Everyone who knows me must realize by now that I have developed an absolute fascination with the writers and artists who make up “The Lost Generation”.  You, of course, F. Scott Fitgerald, Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, Gertrude Stein, and of course Silvia Beach.  It doesn’t stop there though.  The literary scene in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s was frothing over with artistic goodness.  So many writers and book enthusiasts made their mark during this era and Sylvia Beach was one of the big ones. Because of this I instantly fell in love with Maher’s new book.  

Maher dropped me directly at #8 Rue Dupuytren in Paris, the first home to Beach’s Shakespeare and Company. Her story follows Beach opening her shop and her fraught journey working with James Joyce and publishing Ulysses.  Every great book needs a stellar backdrop and Maher delivers just that by illuminating the pages of her book with atmospheric prose that made me experience sitting in Shakespeare’s oversized chair amongst the dusty bookshelves and smoke-filled air. I love how alive Sylvia and the cast of characters felt as they engaged in the liveliest of conversations, drank countless cups of wine, and shared effortless Parisian fare. While Maher’s description of this grandiloquent time period set the overall vibe for this story, it was her portrayal of Sylvia Beach that not only stole the show but won my heart forever.

I was so delighted that Maher introduced her readers to Sylvia Beach the PUBLISHER.  Yes, Shakespeare and Company was her first baby, but Joyce’s Ulysses was equally important to her. Beach was an American woman ahead of her time.  Instead of marrying young and starting a family like so many women her age, she fell in love with a woman and started a small business in Paris.  She fought with every breath in her body for Joyce’s work to be read. She painstakingly worked with him and his uneven personality and diminishing eyesight to make unremitting changes to his book.  She went to bat for him countless times with printers, booksellers, and the US naysayers of his work to assure them that his words were truly innovative and worth the read.  She drained her account for his mistakes, her personal life with Adrienne took a hit, and like so many of us modern-day women, she struggled greatly to find the ultimate work-life balance.  Beach prevailed though and delivered the first published edition of Ulysses to Joyce.  

Maher illustrated everything Beach endured with perfection.  Beach’s passion for Adrienne seeped through the pages.  I could vividly see her nicotine-stained fingers and teeth.  I could feel her heart rate increase every time she met with Joyce.  I related to her emotional strain of trying to “do it all” with only finite minutes in a day.  I cheered for her taking on a male-dominated world when she was the one DOING ALL THE WORK.  But most of all Maher introduced me to Beach’s ceaseless love for all things books and writing. At the end of the day, Sylvia Beach was the ULTIMATE BOOK INFLUENCER, and I am so very thankful for her.  

Until next time my friend!

Your Biggest Fan (and Sylvia’s too),


P.S.  If you need more of Sylvia, James Joyce, and Ulysses in your life, be sure to check out what I had to say about Nora:  A Love Story of Nora and James Joyce by Nuala O’Connor RIGHT HERE!

Click on the book pic to purchase this 5 star read!

***I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  My opinions are 100% my own. If I don’t like it…I don’t share it!

Happy 122nd Birthday Ernest Hemingway

The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway (Scribner)

July 21, 2021

Hello Gorgeous Readers!

I am here to share with you that today would have been Ernest Hemingway’s 122nd birthday.  Just to refresh your memory, Hemingway was born in 1899 and died at the age of 61 years of age. He is considered one of America’s greatest novelists and short story writers of all time.  This past spring, filmmaker extraordinaires Ken Burns and Lynn Novick made a three part series on Ernest Hemingway for PBS.  Because of this, there has been a renewed interest in this literary genius!  To celebrate Hemingway on this day, I am sharing with you one of his most controversial novels, The Garden of Eden.

The Garden of Eden was published posthumously in 1986 by Scribner.  The story takes place in the 1920s in the French Riviera and Spain and follows American writer David Bourne and his wife Catherine on their honeymoon.   Catherine announces to David that she has a big surprise for him and that she will be “changed”. She runs off to the local coiffeur (French barber) and has her hair cut short in a masculine style.  She insists that David not refer to her as a girl during certain times and that he too, will be changed to… “her girl”.  

If you are familiar with Hemingway’s other work you might be saying, hmmmmm.  However, just when you think there is enough unexpected drama to work with here, Hemingway brings a woman named Marita into their lives and a new menage a trois develops. Through all of this, David continues on with his writing.  He abandons his original piece documenting his and Catherine’s extended honeymoon and moves on to writing about Africa.  Catherine does not like this one bit and they argue about his disloyalty to her. 

So here is the scoop.  I am an everyday reader and not an English scholar who can provide you with a deep analysis of this book.  I can assure you, there are TONS of qualified people who have done that already.  What I can tell you is that Hemingway worked on this book sporadically from around 1946 until he died.  Because this book was published after he died, it was edited immensely.  Literary scholars argue how much of this writing is actually his and how much was slashed or rearranged before publishing.  With that said, I will tell you my thoughts. 

The Garden of Eden opens up with a classic fishing scene and scrumptious descriptions of food and drink.  My mind immediately went to The Old Man and the Sea and of course, A Moveable Feast. It felt very much like the Hemingway I was familiar with…  straightforward dialogue, and an undemanding prose.  What was different about this novel was its contemporary vibe.  Hemingway was clearly exploring gender roles, transgenderism, and sexuality between the pages of his book.  Catherine appeared uncomfortable in her own skin and was desperately trying to examine her gender and how she fit into the world around her.  She had no guidance in this arena and instead not only leaned on David, but tried to incorporate him into her journey for validation and acceptance.  

My thoughts on David are still all over the place.  Yes he loves Catherine and accommodates many of her wishes, but I am trying to determine where he stands with all of this change. His own feelings on gender roles, love and even marriage are confusing in my opinion.  His nickname for Catherine is Devil, which in all honesty, can be discussed for days on end.  

The Garden of Eden is a tremendous read.  Though it was a huge success in 1986, I wonder how it would have been received if it was published in the 1940s.  I love how it was ahead of its time and fits so well into present day literature. I enjoyed how this wasn’t a plot driven story, but more of an exploration into the main characters.  This is a book I plan on reading again and again and again.  There is so much to unpack that I imagine each re-read will bring more clarity and perhaps even more questions to dissect.

If you are a Hemingway fan or just an inquisitive reader, I highly recommend checking this one out!  An excellent book club choice!

All my best to you!


P.S. I Highly recommend you check out the three part series on Hemingway on PBS if you haven’t already.

P.P.S.  Click here to read some of my previous Hemingway Birthday posts.

Click on the book picture to purchase.

Happy 121st Birthday Ernest Hemingway

A photograph of Ernest Hemingway

July 21, 2020

Dear Readers,

Happy 121st Birthday Ernest Hemingway! WOW!!!! As I continue to chip away at reading his work, friends are always asking where they can start on their own Hemingway Journey. As of right now, my recommendations remain the same…A Farewell To Arms, A Moveable Feast and The Sun Also Rises. These three never fail, no matter how many times you read them. However, recently I have been working my way through many of Hemingway’s short stories. This has been a wonderful way to experience his work in quick bursts throughout the day. I have never been one to read short stories of any kind on the regular, but I am finding these tiny treasures to be beneficial to my reading life. Can you say instant satisfaction??? I love being able to read a story from start to finish in one sitting. Instant gratification!

If you would like to read more about Hemingway and how I began this journey, CLICK HERE!

Enjoy this beautiful summer day!

Happy reading my friends!



P.S. Check out The Complete Short Stories Of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition. I absolutely loved Big Two-Hearted River…Part I&II.

Click on the book pic below to purchase


Black and white photo of Ernest Hemingway

July 21, 2019

Dear Readers,

Happy 120th birthday, Ernest Hemingway!  Kind of crazy, right? Born in 1899 and dying at the age of 61 years old, Hemingway was one of America’s greatest novelists and short story writers. He led a very interesting life, not always as fetching as it appeared on the outside. Yes, his life was full of friends, romance, cocktails, and travel, but it was also loaded with war, accidents, major health problems, and let’s face it, drama. Though I am intrigued by his life story, I am not a Hemingway expert. I am just a girl who likes to read his books and learn a bit about the man behind the writing. Because of this, I am sharing today when my interest in Hemingway started and how it continues to grow each day. Of course, it wouldn’t be a great book blogging post if I didn’t recommend a book either, so get ready for a wonderful Hemingway novel to put on your TBR pile.

I will be honest with you, I grew up reading a lot like most of the book blogging community. However, growing up I was not that girl sitting at the library immersing herself in classical literature or the works of famous American writers.  While some of my friends were drowning themselves in Fitzgerald, Wharton, and Vonnegut, I was voraciously devouring Danielle Steel, Dean Koontz, Jackie Collins and Stephen King while laying out in the sun smothered in baby oil! I read these books loud and I read them proud.  I was a non stop reading machine with all of this fabulous fiction from my local library. These books were the perfect escape that did not require deep thinking or over analyzing. As the years went on, my reading naturally expanded and evolved. I began to require a bigger range of genres and writing styles to quench my reading desires.

It wasn’t really until a few years ago that I started to enjoy the works of Ernest Hemingway.  On one of our family road trips, my husband recommended we listen to The Old Man and The Sea. This was my first time with this story.  I remember sitting in the passenger seat completely mesmerized with what I was listening to.  After that car ride, I began re-visiting some of Hemingway’s books that I had read eons ago (and certainly didn’t remember) and also read some new to me ones as well. I am s-l-o-w-l-y making my way through his novels, works of non-fiction and short stories.  I am in no rush to complete all of his work by a certain time. Instead, I am absorbing his writing thoughtfully at my own pace with no deadline in site.

I will confess, I am a fast reader, but not with Hemingway.  I read his writing unhurriedly and mindfully, often times re-reading sentences more than once.  I am also not one to describe his work with a scholarly flare. That kind of analysis is simply not in my wheelhouse.  My answer to why I like his writing is uncomplicated……… “I like his words”!!!!!! I adore reading or listening to his writing in the car, cozy by the fire, outside with nature and definitely with a glass of something wonderful to drink.  To me his writing is something I can really meditate on and that I can sit with and savor. It is a true reading experience to cherish. There is a reason that there are t-shirts, mugs and signs with Hemingway quotes on them. His words stay with you.  They are meant for the book lovers, thinkers and lovers of life to relish.

With all of that said, one of my favorite love stories was written by Ernest Hemingway.  A Farewell To Arms was published in 1929 by Scribner Publishing.  The story is narrated by Frederic Henry (Henry), an American who is volunteering for the Italian army during WWI as an ambulance driver.  This story is as straight forward as they come. Henry’s roomate introduces him to Catharine Barkley, a British nurse who he soon falls in love with.  This love of theirs is the good old fashion kind. A passionate kiss followed by time a part during the war strengthens their love for one another. Before you know it, they are reunited at an American hospital in Milan when Henry injures his leg.  With a few blips in the road, Henry and Catharine leave behind the war for Switzerland in order to be free from all the nonsense. I will stop there with what happens next. This is definitely a book you need to experience as purely as possible. As simple as this story appears, its depths go deeper than one can imagine.  Themes of love and war can really overtake a reader if they allow them to. There is much to reflect on when finishing this novel. When you are ready for it, A Farewell To Arms is a reading experience to treasure.  Henry and Catherine will always make me swoon!!!!!

Until Next Time my Fabulous Readers!


P.S.  Hemingway did not care for his name and preferred his peers to call him PaPa instead of Ernest.  Happy Birthday PaPa!!!!!

Click here to purchase A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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