Source: supplied by publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, large print, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: women's fiction
Published by Park Row on March 26, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org
A librarian’s discovery of a mysterious book sparks the journey of a lifetime in the delightful new novel from the international bestselling author of
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people—though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her superhero-themed notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.
All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend—her grandmother Zelda—who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.
Filled with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and vivid characters, The Library of Lost and Found is a heartwarming and poignant tale of how one woman must take control of her destiny to write her own happy ending.
What is lost and finally found at this library is the heart and spirit of volunteer library worker Martha Storm. The story of how she was “lost”, is told in flashbacks, but the story of what she found and how she found it is part of the present.
And it’s completely charming.
I found myself caught up in Martha’s initially self-restricted life and eventual flowering almost in spite of myself. To the point where I started and finished the book in a single day.
Not a lot happens in this story. There aren’t any great adventures or major events. Well, not exactly. Except that there are – mostly in the sense of a journey of the spirit, with signposts provided by the events of her life along the way.
Martha Storm volunteers at her local public library in tiny little Sandshift – a small town on the coast of England. She’s the person who does everything for everybody, always going above and beyond on every side, with no hope of compensation and nary a word of thanks.
She’s a woman who seems constitutionally incapable of saying “No” to anyone. And no one seems to appreciate her for it – not her boss, not her co-workers, not the villagers she helps and certainly not her sister. Not until she finally, suddenly, almost inexplicably manages to say that one word – and both her world and that world’s view of her, begins to shift.
So does she. And as Martha starts to find herself, she also finds what she lost long ago – her grandmother.
Escape Rating B+: This is a story about family secrets, their power to harm, and their power to destroy. And it’s about the freedom that comes with setting those secrets free.
In my own family, there was a secret. At my grandfather’s funeral my aunt revealed that my grandmother was not her mother – that my grandfather had been married before. It wasn’t a big secret – nor was it destructive in the way that the secrets in this story were. But it told me a vital piece of information that explained a great deal about my childhood – I was my grandmother’s only grandchild. She was already deceased, so it had no effect on my relationship with her – but it colored my memories of her differently.
The secrets that have been kept from Martha Storm all of her life, while they don’t change the past, definitely put it into a much different light. A light that illuminates so many events and relationships that defined her – and not always for her benefit.
When she was in her early teens, her parents told her that her charismatic, beloved grandmother Zelda was dead. They refused to let her go to the funeral, and she never found the grave.
When a local bookseller gives her a worn-out copy of a book, written by her grandmother, made up of stories that Martha wrote and told to her grandmother and stories that her grandmother wrote and told to her, she’s flabbergasted. When she reads the dedication at the front of the book, a dedication to her, written three years after her grandmother’s “death”, Martha’s world starts to unravel.
But what unravels are all the accretions and protections, all the shoulds and don’ts, all the negging that her uber-controlling father wrapped around Martha, her mother, and her sister. All the things that kept Martha from venturing out into the world, and letting the world venture into her.
All the things that would have challenged her father’s control of her. Like her grandmother.
In her search for her grandmother, Martha rediscovers herself and her childhood joy of the world around her.
She gets a second chance at life. At love. And with her beloved Zelda. The truth sets her free to be her best self.
And it makes an absolutely charming story.