Elena Molini's “Little Literary Pharmacy”: Reading as Therapy
Bookseller in Florence, Italy, Elena Molini drew inspiration from her own habit of “prescribing” books that heal the soul and do good to her customers to write her first novel, The little literary pharmacy. The novel, a “feel-good book” with several literary references, was a huge success in Italy and now it is translated into French, for our greatest pleasure.
Blu, heroine of this very Florentine novel, dreams of opening her bookstore in the heart of the “city of Lys”, on the banks of the Arno. With the help of great writers like Jane Austen, Charles Bukowski and Agatha Christie, she intends to bring a smile back to everyone who walks through the doors of her small business.
The Little Literary Pharmacy, Elena Molini, Éditions Michel Lafon, 320 pages
The success is there and a book launch with a star of the literary world does not go unnoticed. But Blu can't forget a handsome and mysterious client, straight out of The Great Gatsby, and of which she has lost track. Between fiction and reality, will she be able to find the path to her own happiness?
Elena Molini, a joyful, sensitive, generous and very imaginative writer, describes with humor and an irreverent pen the journey of Blu Rocchini, a young woman full of energy who has many dreams to accomplish. Blu is surrounded by earthy characters and “fashion victims“: her library is far from dusty and her days are busy.
Reading according to her emotions
In a telephone interview from Florence, Elena Molini explains that she realized, with her experience of several years as a bookseller, that many people asked for advice to read an appropriate book, depending on the emotions they were experiencing and the hardships they were going through.
“Over time, I talked about it a bit with my sister, who is a psychologist, and also with a friend I grew up with who is a psychotherapist. I wanted to combine the two: bookstores and psychology,” she explains.
This is how she founded the Piccola Farmacia Litteraire, a well-established bookstore on street in Florence. As she also wanted to write, the book followed quite naturally.
Certain characters, like the woman nicknamed “Premio Strega”, in reference to a major literary prize in Italy, are extremely funny.
“There are somewhat cartoonish characters, but a lot of things that I tell in the book that really happened for real in the bookstore! There are entertaining events that I recount… that are true.”
Elena Molini explains that Blu, her heroine, has a lot in common with her.
“It's not 100% me… but some of his concerns, his anxieties are a bit mine. I have found inspiration in things that have happened to me, or to close friends.
“Other characters in the novel are inspired by people I know. For example, the character named Julio Maria is actually modeled after the owner of the café that is right next to my bookstore. He's my great friend.”
Changes in life
In her novel, Elena Molini tackles the theme of love problems. A very big concern for young people in Italy…or for everyone?
“We notice that heart problems are among the concerns of people who come to see us at the bookstore. They face a sentimental difficulty. It can be a separation, a couple problem. People also come to see us for reading suggestions because they want to reinvent themselves, change their lives.”
Since the pandemic, many people have also been going to the bookstore because they feel the need to carry out a professional turn.
“The pandemic has made many people decide to take their destiny into their own hands and make changes in their lives.”
“The same day, in my momentum, I had also fallen for yet another African turban which, of course, had ended up in the drawer of hair accessories never worn. The story repeated itself every year: I met girls who wore them, I found them too cool, too beautiful and original, so I bought one and then, when I got home, I realized that, far from looking like a African queen, I looked like an out of season easter egg. The reason for their abrupt loss of appeal was somewhere between the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle and that of Stonehenge.”
- Elena Molini is the owner of the Piccola Farmacia Litteraria, Via di Ripoli, in Florence.
- She would love to visit Quebec.
- The sequel to The Little Literary Pharmacy , Piccola libreria con delitto, was published in Italian in 2021 by Mondadori.