Title: The Librarian
Author: Salley Vickers
Published: April 2nd 2018
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 stars
Sylvia Blackwell, a young woman in her twenties, moves to East Mole, a quaint market town in middle England, to start a new job as a children’s librarian. But the apparently pleasant town is not all it seems. Sylvia falls in love with an older man – but it’s her connection to his precocious young daughter and her neighbours’ son which will change her life and put them, the library and her job under threat.
How does the library alter the young children’s lives and how do the children fare as a result of the books Sylvia introduces them to?
The Librarian, written by Salley Vickers, is a dream novel if you are a booklover. It is of course set predominately in a library and follows the journey of Sylvia Blackwell, a young woman who takes up the position of a Children’s Librarian in a declining library. The story that gently unfolds is one of friendship, love, aspirations and the power of books.
In the year 1958, a twenty five year old woman, Sylvia Blackwell, leaves her life in Swindon for a new one in the small market town of East Mole. Sylvia has scored a position as a Children’s Librarian in the quaint little town’s library. No sooner has Sylvia settled into her new post when love comes into her life, in the form of a local married man. This causes scandal in East Mole and threatens her much loved position. At the same time as Sylvia negotiates her feelings for the married man, she also develops a relationship with his daughter and the son of her neighbour. Over the course of the novel, these relationships grow and change. Sylvia also faces a new threat in the form of pressures over the continued existence of the library and her position. The Librarian is a book that looks at human relationships and reminds of how our lives can be enhanced by books.
Salley Vickers is an author I was yet to explore until the opportunity came my way to review her latest novel, The Librarian. I have heard of the notable author of The Cleaner of Chartres and after reading this novel, I have made a pact to seek out The Cleaner of Chartres sooner rather than later. I selected this title to read based on the title and setting alone. I was rewarded with a fine read indeed.
The appeal of The Librarian for me personally immediately came from the presentation of the hard copy of the book itself. The Librarian is one of those books that is an absolutely delight to have between your hands. The cover design is exquisite. It is embossed with a background print of a library and woven around this is a vine like leaf design, which is embossed with decadent gold leaves. Once I opened the book itself, I discovered inside the front cover is a print that I noted is from the Victorian and Albert Museum and it’s simply gorgeous! Now that I have sold you the appearance of the book it is time to talk mechanics!
Salley Vickers is obviously a skilled writer in the fiction field. The Librarian is grounded well in her time period (1958) and the attention to detail in terms of her setting comes across as authentic. I enjoyed this aspect of the novel very much. Vickers is also acutely aware of the moral codes, social changes happening and the shifting social attitudes of this time. Vickers is conscientious in inserting these key details into her novel.
In terms of the characters that appear in The Librarian, Vickers has a firm grasp on her character set. From the very well drawn lead Sylvia, through to the secondary characters, each has been outlined with care. I enjoyed the interactions between the lead and the younger side characters, it was a pleasure to read. Overall, I found Sylvia to be quite an inspiring young woman for her time and I was quite jealous of her position as a Children’s Librarian.
The plot featured in The Librarian was easy to follow and reader friendly. There are a few problems that arise for our characters and I liked the way in which Salley Vickers approached these issues. There was plenty of depth and interest related to the main themes presented in this delightful novel. Vickers also presents a nice resolution to her new novel, which I appreciated.
What I will draw from The Librarian is simply the joy of reading and what the act of imparting a passion for books with others can do to transform lives. No matter the time, or place, books, our libraries and the important caretakers of our libraries have a vital role in all communities. The Librarian is a passionate story that will bring a ray of sunshine to your day, especially if you are a bookworm!
The Librarian by Salley Vickers was published on April 2nd 2018 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Librarian, Salley Vickers visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.