I borrowed a hardback copy of The Librarian by Salley Vickers from the library on a recent trip to the city for a meeting of a writing group. I had been looking out for it as I have enjoyed other novels by this author.
Spoiler alert! Please skip the 2 paragraphs following this if you are like me and do not want to know much about a book before reading it. It took me a few days to read as I was busy with other things.
It is mainly a historical novel, being set in the 20th century! I hadn’t expected the librarian to be a children’s librarian. I still reread children’s books (or read them for the first time). In this story some of the books borrowed from the library affected subsequent events.
I was surprised when, towards the end of the book, I turned a page and found Part Two. This part is about how the lives of some of the children in Part One turned out. In particular two of them now over 70 years old, who had been good friends and then lost touch, compared their memories. They looked back on the events of their childhood with their adult understanding.
End of Spoiler! Salley Vickers has once more demonstrated her understanding of human nature.
There is a list at the end of the book of her recommended reading from the children’s library in the book. Some of the titles are new to me, but many are books I read as a child and have reread as an adult. I am going to reread Tom’s Midnight Garden, which I did not read until I had children of my own. It had particular significance in The Librarian and I can’t remember it at all!
Other readers of The Librarian may also wish to do some background reading.
The Boy Who Could See Death by Salley Vickers
When I borrowed this book from the library I hadn’t realised it is a book of short stories, which takes its name from perhaps the most haunting one. I may have mentioned previously that I prefer novels to short stories. Starting to read a short story is as much work as starting to read a novel. Then a few pages later it comes to an end. I don’t always manage to work out what the whole story has been about! There was at least one story in this collection, which left me guessing. (I like all the ends tied in and no room for doubt in a story!)
However, Salley Vickers writes extremely well and remains on my list of authors to look out for in the library. A review of another of her books appears in a previous post.
Meadowland: the private life of an English field by John Lewis-Stempel
I am cheating by including this library book here as I had not finished it by the end of November. It is a book I have been savouring. Each month of a particular year has a chapter to itself. The author describes life on his farm in Herefordshire near to the Welsh border. The history of the area, traditions, literature and patient observation of creatures and plants go to make this book rather special. While the author is very knowledgeable, he manages to communicate his knowledge in a way that is interesting to those with different levels of knowledge of the natural world.
It is the kind of subject, where the more you know, the more you learn. I found the prose particularly enjoyable, with a very gentle sense of humour being apparent. As in many of my favourite books, a map is included at the beginning. This one is of the farm. There are also lists of species observed, a list of nature books in the author’s possession and a list of music.
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald is a book I borrowed from the library. I had seen a lot of posts about it on social media around the time it was published. Reading library books often means that I am behind the latest trends!
I found this prize-winning book well-written and very interesting. Apart from being autobiographical and about falconry, it is a book about grief and about TH White both as an author and a person. I read several of his books in my youth and have reread The Once and Future King as an adult. I liked some of his books very much, while others left me feeling that I had missed something. Learning about his struggles helped me to understand how his writing could vary so much.
Eye Can Write: A memoir of a child’s silent soul emerging by Jonathan Bryan
I was having a conversation with a small group of people, when one of them put a book into my hand without saying anything. I had heard of the book and thought I’d like to read it. It didn’t take long, because the print was a good size and the story was gripping. It is a truly inspirational book. I recommended it to hubby, who was more reluctant to read it because of the subject-matter. However, he is also finding it very interesting. Profits from the book go to a charity (Teach us too) to help youngsters with special needs to access a proper education. This book could be described as an antidote to Me Before You, which I wrote about in my previous post in this series.
Cousins by Salley Vickers is a book I found in the library. I have enjoyed other books by this author. I hadn’t heard about her latest titles. Strangely Cousins has some back-stories, which are similar to some in my own family. Also there are aspects of the story, which are not dissimilar to some other books I read recently. It was a good read. (I have read at least 6 of Salley Vickers’ books and am looking out for the ones I have missed.)
The Novel Habits of Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith was a book I bought second-hand at a coffee morning. Readers of this blog may remember that I have read many other books by this prolific author. I particularly like the Isabel Dalhousie series, to which this belongs. It is set in Edinburgh and I was part way through it when Hubby and I travelled to Edinburgh for a day. As I read the rest later, I could envisage some of the places where it was set. Recognising a place adds to the enjoyment in my opinion. It was a light-hearted read after some more serious books. As usual all the loose ends were tied up satisfactorily, while leaving scope for the story to continue unfolding.