I’ve long had a love affair with the legendary, romantic, and somewhat mysterious bookshop called Shakespeare & Company. It’s a place rife with literary history, where real bound book treasures wait to be discovered and curtained beds for itinerate authors hide among the stacks. An item on my literary bucket list is a prolonged artist’s tour of Paris, including many hours spent wandering, shopping, and dreaming in this wonderful place. To celebrate the arrival of spring dreams of Paris and the cherry blossoms the store is known for, here’s a bit of armchair travel for those who share my fascination with this magical place. Want more? May I suggest reading Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare and Company, by Jeremy Mercer, a beautiful, dreamy, and often hilarious memoir about his stay at the shop.
“Oh, we love Paris in the springtime! It’s so glorious to see the leaves appearing and the blossoms blooming after a long winter. At the bookshop, we launched ourselves into the new season with an evening of sonnets, held to mark the 449th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and death (the same day). It was a magical occasion, celebrating the timeless beauty and relevance of some of history’s greatest love poems. Lola Peploe and Charlotte Corman — two very talented Paris-based actors — read a selection of sonnets in French (which sounded divine, of course) and English. Following their gorgeous rendition, members of the audience were invited to read their favorites aloud to the room, and it was incredibly moving to hear people recite Shakespeare with such familiarity and love. After the reading, we all moved out onto the esplanade for a glass of pink wine under the pink cherry blossoms — here’s to many more such evenings in the coming months.” — written by Laura Keeling for the Shakespeare & Company newsletter (May 2013). Reprinted here with her permission.