A novel set in WWII France with the theme of a librarian passionate about saving books.
Title: The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar
Category: Adult Fiction, 384 pages
Genre: Historical fiction / Literary
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: June 1, 2021
Content rating: PG-13+ M (Situations of WWII)
Through letters with a famous author, one French librarian tells her love story and describes the brutal Nazi occupation of her small coastal village.
Saint-Malo, France: August 1939. Jocelyn and Antoine are childhood sweethearts, but just after they marry, Antoine is called up to fight against Germany. As the war rages, Jocelyn focuses on comforting and encouraging the local population by recommending books from her beloved library in Saint-Malo. She herself finds hope in her letters to a famous author.
After the French capitulation, the Nazis occupy the town and turn it into a fortress to control the north of French Brittany. Residents try passive resistance, but the German commander ruthlessly purges part of the city’s libraries to destroy any potentially subversive writings. At great risk to herself, Jocelyn manages to hide some of the books while waiting to receive news from Antoine, who has been taken to a German prison camp.
What unfolds in her letters is Jocelyn’s description of her mission: to protect the people of Saint-Malo and the books they hold so dear. With prose both sweeping and romantic, Mario Escobar brings to life the occupied city and re-creates the history of those who sacrificed all to care for the people they loved.
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani
A novel set in WWII France with the theme of a librarian passionate about saving books immediately caught my attention and I was eagerly anticipating a great read. Oh, and that cover is just beautiful.
While I enjoyed the setting, and I have read a slew of WWII historical fiction, I have to say I struggled with this story. The elements were all in place for a gripping account and it did start well, but somehow it fell flat for me. I did not feel the great love story between Jocelyn and Antoine, and the other love interest seemed too quick, and unrealistic.
Published under a Christian publishing house, I noted inspirational themes of love that I did appreciate, gems of wisdom that the author was trying to portray.
Although this novel was translated, I thought it was well done. I think this is a novel that will strike a different chord with each reader depending on what you love about WWII historical fiction.
About the Author
Mario Escobar Golderos has a degree in History, with an advanced studies diploma in Modern History. He has written numerous books and articles about the Inquisition, the Protestant Reformation, and religious sects. He is the executive director of an NGO and directs the magazine Nueva historia para el debate, in addition to being a contributing columnist in various publications. Passionate about history and its mysteries, Escobar has delved into the depths of church history, the different sectarian groups that have struggled therein, and the discovery and colonization of the Americas. He specializes in the lives of unorthodox Spaniards and Americans.
Ends June 16, 2021