The New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the “captivating, richly drawn” (Woman’s World) The Paris Library returns with a brilliant new novel based on the true story of Jessie Carson—the American librarian who changed the literary landscape of France.
1918: As the Great War rages, Jessie Carson takes a leave of absence from the New York Public Library to work for the American Committee for Devastated France. Founded by millionaire Anne Morgan, this group of international women help rebuild devastated French communities just miles from the front. Upon arrival, Jessie strives to establish something that the French have never seen—children’s libraries. She turns ambulances into bookmobiles and trains the first French female librarians. Then she disappears.
1987: When NYPL librarian and aspiring writer Wendy Peterson stumbles across a passing reference to Jessie Carson in the archives, she becomes consumed with learning her fate. In her obsessive research, she discovers that she and the elusive librarian have more in common than their work at New York’s famed library, but she has no idea their paths will converge in surprising ways across time.
Based on the extraordinary little-known history of the women who received the Croix de Guerre medal for courage under fire, Miss Morgan’s Book Brigade is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit, the power of literature, and ultimately the courage it takes to make a change.
About the Author
Janet Skeslien Charles is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Paris Library. Her work has been translated into thirty-seven languages. She has spent a decade researching Jessie Carson (Miss Morgan’s Book Brigade) at The Morgan Library, the NYPL, and archives across France. Her shorter work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, The Sydney Morning Herald, LitHub, and the anthology Montana Noir. To connect, visit her website JSkeslienCharles.com, @JSkeslienCharles on Instagram, or @SkeslienCharles on Twitter.
“An astonishing novel of postwar WWI France with the beating heart of courageous women who change the world through books. . . and a moving tale of sacrifice, heroism, and inspired storytelling immersed in the power of books to change our lives.” —Patti Callahan Henry, bestselling author of The Secret Book of Flora Lea
“Bursting with remarkable characters and filled with heart-in-mouth moments, Miss Morgan’s Book Brigade is a hugely enjoyable read and an enthralling, emotional story rich in historical detail. . . . This wonderful book is a gift to the reader.” —Liese O’Halloran Schwarz, author of What Could Be Saved
“Janet Skeslien Charles is that perfect writer, able to take a true nugget of history and weave it into a tale that grips you from page one. She has an alchemist's eye for tiny historical detail that shimmers under her pen. . . . A rich, glorious life-affirming tribute to literature and female solidarity. Simply unforgettable!” —Kate Thompson, author of The Wartime Book Club
“A wonderful story about the ability of books not only to inspire, but also to rescue and restore. The characters are so richly drawn that they leap off the page… The meticulous research brings such a satisfying depth and authenticity to the narrative, and this is perfectly balanced by the compassion and humanity of the characters. I absolutely loved it!” —Ruth Hogan, bestselling author of The Keeper of Lost Things
“In this compelling ode to the astonishing power of libraries and librarians, readers are introduced to the intrepid, real-life heroine Jessie Carson who delivered hope along with books to children in war-torn France. Janet Skeslien Charles’s latest novel is – to borrow the words of one of her own characters – ‘unputdownable!’” —Marie Benedict, New York Times bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room
Praise for The Paris Library
“As a Parisian, an ardent bookworm, and a longtime fan of the American Library in Paris, I devoured The Paris Library in one hungry gulp. It is charming and moving, with a perfect balance between history and fiction.” —Tatiana de Rosnay, New York Times bestselling author of Sarah's Key
“A fresh take on WWII France that will appeal to bibliophiles everywhere…an irresistible, compelling read.” —Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Chelsea Girls
“Well-researched, stirring, and rich with detail, The Paris Library is an ode to the importance of libraries, books, and the human connections we find within both.” —Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names