Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $17.00
  • Save: $4.57 (27%)
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Time Was Soft There: A Pa... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co. Paperback – September 19, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

See all 10 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$12.43
$7.46 $0.01

Scream: A Memoir of Glamour and Dysfunction by Tama Janowitz
Scream
A Memoir of Glamour and Dysfunction by Tama Janowitz | Learn more | See related books
$12.43 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co.
  • +
  • Shakespeare and Company
  • +
  • Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties
Total price: $41.50
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mercer explains his memoir's title this way: "Hard time goes slowly and painfully and leaves a man bitter.... Time at Shakespeare and Company was as soft as anything I'd ever felt." His graceful narrative follows struggling writers as they live on potato soup and dreams at Paris's famous expatriate bookshop. Mercer, a former Ottowa Citizen crime reporter, finds himself at Shakespeare one gloomy Parisian day in 1999, in his late 20s, with not much money and no plans for the future, trying to evade some angry newspaper sources back home. With little fanfare, he is taken into the store by its owner, George Whitman, a kindly yet scatterbrained man, who explains, "I run a socialist utopia that masquerades as a bookstore." Mercer begins working as an eager unpaid employee, running errands, acting as a referee between the writers who hang out there and ringing up sales (it's no B&N superstore: when Mercer asks where the credit card machine is, he's told, "Dude, Shakespeare and Company doesn't even have a telephone. Of course we don't take credit cards"). Mercer portrays the assorted characters and their adventures with an eye for detail and a wry sense of humor. Francophile book lovers will enjoy his finely crafted memoir.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

As a crime reporter in Canada, Mercer received a threatening call after naming an underworld source in a book. Fearing for his life, he quit his job and flew to Paris. As his funds dwindled, he stumbled upon Shakespeare and Co., a small bookstore on the Left Bank across from Notre-Dame, and spent nine months living rent-free in the upstairs library, along with a rotating cast of backpackers and aspiring writers. Despite Mercer's predilection for melodramatic flourishes, the memoir ably captures a romanticized version of the bum's life, with elaborate schemes to scrape up money (like buying designer handbags on behalf of Asian tourists) and nights spent drinking wine and swapping stories. But the real star is the eccentric and charming bookstore proprietor, George Whitman, who remarks, after losing a stack of two-hundred-franc notes to nest-building mice, "At least it's not the books."
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (September 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312347405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312347406
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #544,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amy Senk VINE VOICE on January 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Time Was Soft There is a charming memoir that reads like an exceptional novel. It tells the story of a jaded, hard-drinking Canadian cops reporter who must flee after a betrayed source issues threats.

Mercer ends up in Paris to finish a college language requirement. Then, just as he is running out of money, he spots the Shakespeare & Company bookshop during a downpour. He slips inside for a peek, and immediately finds friends, a home, a way of life that is seductive and artistic and romantic all at once.

The story does read like fiction from another era. Mercer's writing is so smooth and honest, and his story is incredible. He captures a very magical place in a magical city. Anyone who loves to get lost in bookstores will savor this book.

There is a fair amount of history in the story, which gives the book a spine. He explains the family background of the bookshop owner, his political leanings, his ties to the City Lights bookstore in San Francisco.

Mercer also does a wonderful job of showing the downside to such a romantic and crazy life choice. Giving up everything in order to live in a famous book store in a famous city sounds wonderful, but there are filthy toilets and hunger pangs and thieves and heartbreak, too.

This is an honest and well-written book about a fascinating subject. Time Was Soft There will surely catch the fancy of anyone who loves books and writers.
Comment 48 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this memoir of his stay at Shakespeare & Co., Jeremy Mercer skillfully uses his talents as an extraordinary writer-storyteller. He captures the Romantic notions of all who go (or long to go) to Paris to experience the mythical pasts of the writers and artists who have flocked there for hundreds of years, and balances these notions with the often harsh realities of living the life of the starving artist. These experiences are couched in the Romantic life of George Whitman, the bookstore's founder, who in his free-wheeling life as an ex-patriate with all of its ups and downs, must ultimately face the realities of life as an aging rebel, grappling with the future of his haven - the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore.
1 Comment 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Jeremy Mercer's biographical description of Paris's Shakespeare & Company offers an amazing insight into the bookstore which accepts struggling travelers (who have a knack for writing... or at least try) by offering them a place to stay for as long as necessary (5 years for one visitor). But perhaps the most interesting aspect of this bookstore is its eccentric owner George Whitman, a man who regards money with disdain, sets fire to his hair in order to give it a trim, and decrees the bookstore's motto to be `Be kind to strangers, lest they're angels in disguise'.

Shakespeare & Company was originally a bookstore owned by Sylvia Beach, running from 1919 to 1941, attracting such literary heavyweights like Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald. After being closed (with one rumor being that it was shut down when Ms Beach refused to sell the last copy of `Finnegan's Wake' to an occupying Nazi officer), a decade late George Whitman opened his own, similar bookstore in Paris under the name `Le Minstal'. It would eventually adopt the Shakespeare & Co. name, and would become renowned for its open door policy to visitors; its deep rooted communist ideals; its run-ins with the government; its cluttered yet enchanting makeup; and its undeniable charm and allure that has attracted so many thousands of visitors.

Into this world enters Jeremy Mercer, a Canadian crime-writer whose open honesty about his true character in the opening chapters immediately alienates the reader, who is likely to be somewhat put off by Mercer's admitted taste for the violence he witnesses whilst reporting.
Read more ›
Comment 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Hard Time" is common slang for a prison spell in a maximum-security facility or otherwise highly restrictive conditions. "Soft time" is incarceration in a country club prison. In 2000, author Jeremy Mercer spent four months living at Shakespeare and Company, a legendary bookstore in Paris, on the Left Bank with a view of Notre Dame. He writes, "Time at Shakespeare & Co. was as soft as anything I'd ever felt."

Sylvia Beach owned the original Shakespeare and Company, famous for publishing Joyce's "Ulysses" and as a between-the-World-Wars mecca for "Lost Generation" writers. In 1951, George Whitman, another American, opened a reincarnation of sorts of Sylvia Beach's bookstore, as it too became a mecca for au courant literary types, many of whom by then were members of the Beat Generation. After Beach died, and with her permission, Whitman renamed his store "Shakespeare and Company", and his iteration has become almost as famous as the original. As special a bookstore as his establishment was (and continues to be), what most distinguished it was that Whitman operated it as a sanctuary for down-on-their-luck writers. Whitman was a communist -- a major reason why he left the United States -- and he liked to think of Shakespeare and Company as "a socialist utopia that masquerades as a bookstore."

There are five principal strands to TIME WAS SOFT THERE. One of course concerns the bookstore itself, as well as the "socialist utopia" where over the decades as many as 40,000 souls were given overnight shelter. In the book world, there is a sub-sub-genre of "books about bookstores"; I have read at least a dozen of them over the years and TIME WAS SOFT THERE is somewhere in the middle of the pack.
Read more ›
1 Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co.
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co.