Julie L. Kessler
lawyer traveler writer


Shakespeare & Company

About a week ago I received a long email from a woman in her mid 20’s who was traveling in Europe and who came across Fifty-Fifty at the venerable and old Shakespeare & Company bookstore on the left bank in Paris. In part, the reader wrote:


“I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed your book, and that it was so fitting for me to read as I finally begin to close off my travels being in Europe for the first time and the first time being away from home for so long. I hope that like you, I can travel much more and see more of the world, meet amazing people and learn more about myself and be able to encapsulate all those lessons learned in writing. I particularly loved your story of your friend Sophie from Paris. I think that in life, being able to influence those around you in a positive way just by the way you live is perhaps the greatest blessing you can endow on someone. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and words of wisdom that I can replay in my mind as I prepare to go back home with all of my own new experiences and new found wisdom.”


While it is always wonderful to hear from readers who have enjoyed your work, receiving that note was particularly meaningful to me. First, due to the serendipitous nature of how she got the book. She had been working in Marseille for six months and was invited to Paris overnight and stayed with another young woman who showed her Shakespeare & Company. She went in but didn’t find anything of interest to buy. That evening (which was a few days after The 2013 Paris Book Festival awards dinner) and the night before I was to return to the U.S., I stopped by Shakespeare & Company and dropped off one copy of Fifty-Fifty for their lending library. Fifty-Fifty inadvertently was then mis-shelved. The next day on her way to the train station the woman again returned to Shakespeare & Company hoping to find a book to take with her on her last month of European travels. She then found Fifty-Fifty on the same shelf she had scoured the day before and purchased it. Second, when I wrote Fifty-Fifty I really had the over 40’s crowd in mind as a readership demographic. That someone in her mid-twenties was so moved by the book and took the time to write of its impact simply made my day.


A wise woman once said there simply are no coincidences. I would have to agree. I was meant to drop Fifty-Fifty off there on Sunday even though it would have been easier to ship it when I returned, Fifty-Fifty was meant to get on the shelf for sale instead of the lending library which I’m told rarely happens, and the young woman was meant to return there Monday to find it en route to meet her friends at the train station and journey onward.

Date Posted:  Jun. 24 2013