Local librarian Hanna Casey is wondering where it all went wrong … Driving her mobile library van through Finfarran’s farms and villages, she tries not to think of the sophisticated London life she abandoned when she left her cheating husband. Or that she’s now stuck in her crotchety mum’s spare bedroom.
With her daughter Jazz travelling the world and her relationship with her mother growing increasingly fraught, Hanna decides to reclaim her independence. Then, when the threatened closure of her library puts her plans in jeopardy, she finds herself leading a battle to restore the heart and soul of the fragmented community. Will she also find the new life she’s been searching for?
*Thank you to the publisher, Hachette Books Ireland, and NetGalley for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
I am such a sucker for feel-good books and those with laugh-out-loud moments. And though The Library at the Edge of the World wasn’t pitched to make me roll with laughter, it did promise to make me feel good and warm after. Plus, look at that title and the lovely cover. It is so hard to resist, even though I am not that sold with the blurb.
Hanna Casey is in her fifties yet she is still living with her mom. After finding out that her rich husband for over 20 years has been cheating on her for a long time with his assistant, she packed up her bags and went back to her hometown in Ireland with her teenage daughter in tow. Without any money, she was left with no choice but to stay with her mom. She’d been working in the town’s library since then, driving the mobile library to the farms and villages from time to time. It is not as glamorous as the life she had back in London, but it is something. Now that her daughter, Jazz, is working as a flight attendant, she is stuck with her overbearing mother who’s getting more difficult to live with. And so she finally decided to move out and live alone. Only, things aren’t going according to her plan. Her ex-husband refused to give her any money when she asked for his help and the only course of action left is to get a loan from the bank and restore a decrepit cottage left to her by her great-aunt. But then, she learned that her job is in danger, the library is on the brink of being closed. And it is not only the library that is affected. A new council project that promised tourism boost will greatly affect a lot of people and their means of living. Despite being dubbed as snotty and strict by the locals, Hanna finds herself leading the townspeople to a fight against the council in order for small businesses and the library to survive. Can she actually save the town?
It sure is a feel good book and I especially enjoyed the setting in a small town Ireland. It sounds like a lovely community. It reminds me of home where people knows everybody, just minus the peninsula. The ending is okay as all goes well, but I feel like there are some few loose ends that need to be tied. For instance, the fact that Hanna’s daughter, Jazz, is so clueless to her dad’s cheating and was left to believe that it’s her mother’s fault why her parents separated. I really don’t like how it was left off like that. I believe Jazz has the right to know the truth about her parent’s separation and her dad’s manipulation. I guess there will be a sequel to this and I hope they deal with the issue. Malcolm is such an irksome character that I was expecting some kind of redemption or something like that. It doesn’t matter that I don’t sympathize that much with Hanna. I can’t seem to connect to her most of the time and I don’t think it’s because of the age. For one, as a book lover, it is hard for me to like a librarian who doesn’t really like to be one at all. Another thing is how there’s not much story about the library, not a lot of Hanna as a librarian, the people she’s working with and the people who visit the library. It was more about her past and how she’s handling her life at the present. There are also a lot of characters that it got so confusing to follow who is who. It started painfully slow for my liking that I find myself skimming some pages because it fails to catch my interest. The conflict came later on in which I feel like a good quarter of the book can be shed off.
It is well-written, though, and the main reason that I keep reading. That and the second half of the book is so much better that I managed to get through it until the end. From the numerous characters, there are some whom I enjoyed reading than the others. Sister Michael, a nun in the convent, and Fury, the carpenter who’s fixing Hanna’s cottage, both of them helped Hanna save the library and the community. There’s a hint of romance, too, which is not really the focus of the story, which I like. I also love how everyone banded together to save not only the library but the whole community. With all that, I’d say it is still a good read overall. It just needs the kind of reader who will enjoy not only the writing style but also the lovely setting in Ireland.