I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Physician heal thyself.
As the book jacket tells us, “Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared.”
Nina George nails the grief experience in this novel. I freely admit to crying through the final 100 pages, but in a good way. It was like receiving a book prescription from Monsieur Perdu, as when he counsels one woman early in the book: ”And this book, which you will please read slowly, so you can take the occasional break. You’ll do a lot of thinking and probably a bit of crying. For yourself. For the years. But you’ll feel better afterward.”
Indeed, I did feel better afterward. I wish this book had been published back in 1996-1999, when I really could have used it! Instead of shutting my feelings down, just as Jean Perdu has done, I felt exactly the same way: ”He felt as if there were stone tears inside him that left no room for anything else.”
The grief process is so hard and yet so necessary! To carry them within us—that is our task. We carry them all inside us, all our dead and shattered loves, only they make us whole. If we begin to forget or cast aside those we’ve lost, then…then we are no longer present either.
Jean Perdu is certainly well-named. As his surname indicates, he has lost his life and must work through his grief to reclaim it. I loved his note-taking during his grief process for the Encyclopedia of Emotions—taking note of small emotions on his way to processing the big ones. My own reaction to grief was to quit reading, a big mistake in hindsight! How I could have used a Jean Perdu in my own life.
Books are integral to my life and I am so glad to have the joy of reading returned to me.
He wanted her to sense the boundless possibilities offered by books. They would always be enough. The would never stop loving their readers. They were a fixed point in an otherwise unpredictable world. In life. In love. After death.