Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

It's been about 13 years since I visited Ireland, but I can still remember the stunning beauty:  the intense colors, the fresh air, and the small towns and villages. Someday I'll return for another visit, but in the meantime, I was lucky to read The Library at the Edge of the World and be reminded of that special time in Ireland.  

Hanna Casey has returned to live with her mother in a small home set just outside of Lissbeg. She's newly divorced, with a grown daughter (Jazz) who's off on her own as a flight attendant. Hanna's ex-husband had been carrying on a years-long affair with a family friend behind Hanna's back. Very angry, Hanna only wanted out, and left behind the chance to be compensated for supporting her husband's career during their long marriage. So broke, she's living with her mother, working as a librarian in the Lissbeg public library. Not where she expected to be; after all, her dreams were to work in one of the great libraries of  London, helping to preserve and showcase history. Hanna is a bit of a wet blanket; she doesn't allow her library to have much going on for the public. People go to the library to check out books and none of that nonsense about classes, programs, or groups meeting in the library. She's cranky, which doesn't quite jive with the description of her rather youthful appearance. Her relationship with her mother is combative, as well.  

Hanna decides to remodel a crumbling little stone cottage she inherited from a distant relative.  It's a huge mess, but Fury, a local colorful character, decides he is the one to tackle this rather large project.  He's a man unto himself; he won't answer his phone, makes decisions for Hanna, and has his own reasons for wanting to restore the cottage.  What starts out as a prickly relationship becomes one of friendship, and it was fun to read the scenes between Hanna and Fury.  

Meanwhile, the local council has decided to push forth a large project that will benefit part of the Finfarran Peninsula:  a larger port to welcome cruise ships, a bigger center for activities, and a huge push to welcome more tourists.  Only problem with this is that it leaves a huge portion of the peninsula (and Lissbeg) out in the cold, with no access to services and no chance to survive.  If the Lissbeg library and local businesses hope to survive, they've got to come up with a plan and fight the council.  Hanna finds herself smack dab in the middle of this project with the help of an elderly nun and Conor, her part-time library assistant.  They've got to pull the community together and showcase all the wonderful people, places, and services the whole Finfarran Peninsula has; but have they run out of time?

I have to say this novel started out slowly for me.  I had to keep reminding myself that it was contemporary, because I felt like I was reading a novel that took place in the 60's or 70's. Hanna took a bit to warm up to; she has a lot of emotional baggage to work through, and it took up much of the first half of the novel. I'm happy to say the second half of the novel was much more interesting and picked up speed as the fight for Lissbeg's survival took center stage.  It is through this that Hanna begins to find her strength and looks at her library position as something more, rather than a drudgery.  As her home nears completion, she's finding her place. There are sufficient loose ends to hope for a sequel. Hanna has a budding romance; her home isn't quite finished (but is thisclose), and where does Lissbeg go after the surprise Fury pulls off?  I want to see what happens next! 

This novel was published outside the U.S. in 2016; it will be out in paperback by HarperCollins in the U.S. in November, 2017.  I was lucky to have a chance to read an ARC through Edelweiss and it was a great way to kick off my summer reading list. Add it to your TBR list now!

Rating:  3/6 for an entertaining read about a small Irish village, a librarian, and how they need one another.  The first half is more angsty relationship stuff, but the second half was delightful and makes me want to read a sequel. I  enjoyed getting to know the people who surrounded Hanna; a great job in building an enjoyable cast of characters.  

1 comment :

  1. I'm reading this now and like you am not gripped by it yet - but interested enought to finish it. Cheers