Saturday, September 11, 2021

The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson


Followers of my blog should know by now I read pretty much any novels set in and around libraries and bookstores. Lucky for me there are plenty of them! 

The Last Chance Library is a charming novel about a small English town fighting to save their library from closure. June Jones is a library assistant at the same library her mother worked at for years, until her death eight years before. 

June loves working at the library, and does it all: reference, help at the computers, shelving, and recommends--even to crabby old Mrs. B, who says every book she reads "Is shit". Only problem is the library has been left to become rundown due to endless cuts in the budget. Now the city council is going to determine if they should shut the library down completely, and replace it with a bookmobile instead. 

June, along with her faithful library patrons, is horrified and determined to do whatever they can to keep the library open. June, however, has been warned her job is on the line if she is caught working with the protesters. So instead, she goes undercover. 

This is all a big change for June. She's a bit of a recluse-works, goes home, and reads every evening. Her life stopped when she lost her mother, and she's been unable to move forward. Will the possibility of the library closing push her to leave her comfort zone?

The characters in this novel are all charming folks. Stanley in particular--he's an older gentleman who is at the library every morning, without fail. He's full of regrets for choices he made earlier in life, and sees Chalcot's library crisis as something he can finally stand up for and work hard to stop. His relationship with June goes beyond librarian and patron--they are friends, even if neither realizes it.

I enjoyed this novel very much and was pleased to see June's metamorphosis from a person living in the shadows to someone stepping out and standing up for herself. This tale shows the importance of libraries in people's lives and how it makes a community. So many people, from all different walks of life step into the library and it makes a huge difference in their lives. For many, it is a life-changing place. 

Rating: 4/6 for a delightful read about the power of community and friendships,  the importance of libraries, and living life to the fullest. 

Available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio. 

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