SYNOPSIS: Twenty-one years after his lover left him, Jean Perdu is forced to read her final letter to him and embarks on a journey of self-healing along with an author who has writer’s block after a successful first novel, and an Italian chef looking for love in all the wrong places.
I think that this book is about three things: Grief, Love, and Books. The whole arc of the novel is Jean learning to let go of the past and learn to love again and I loved that the things that help him get through are the love of his friends and his love of books. I really enjoyed the moments in the book where Jean would “prescribe” a book to a person and then give out the details as to why that book will be important for them at that point in life (in the back of the book there is a list of all the books mentioned and what ailments they remedy which I think is very clever). I also loved how it wasn’t just Jean going on a life changing journey, although his is the journey that takes the longest and the one with start with from the beginning all the way to the end. I enjoyed watching Max Jordan grow from a listless youngling who had no idea what to do next to a man who had everything all sorted out. It was fun to watch his dialogue change as his and Jean’s relationship developed from wary acquaintances to a a surrogate father/son dynamic. I also loved the beautiful descriptions of the various cities in France that they stopped at along their journeys of self-discovery. Even though I have never seen France with my own eyes, I could picture everything perfectly. I loved how the country and the little book barge they were traveling on were characters just as much as the real people. There is just so much beauty in some of the passages that at times it felt more like poetry than prose. I think what is so important about this book is that we have three men at different stages in life that still have something to learn about the world and themselves. It just goes to show that you are never truly done learning lessons no matter what you may think. I’d prescribe this book to those who want an ordinary adventure and to know that they are not alone and can love again.