Book of the Week, 12th January 2019
With the threat of closure hanging over so many Essex libraries this is a timely novel. Set in the late 1950’s when librarianship was a ‘job with a proper future’, young Sylvia Blackwell takes up the post of children’s librarian in East Mole, a sleepy market town in rural Wiltshire. She enthusiastically sets to work to reinvigorate the rundown library. Offloading the dusty rows of Dickens and Walter Scott, she buys in her favourite child friendly tales and embarks on a crusade to inspire the local children in their reading.
But life doesn’t run smoothly. One stormy night a tree crashes through the roof of Sylvia’s rented cottage and, while staying with a friend, she bumps into Dr Hugh Bell, the new GP. A scandalous affair between Sylvia and the older married doctor causes another kind of storm to descend on East Mole.
Sylvia’s youthful idealism meets the prejudices, hypocrisies and social moralities, of post war middle England as she tries to save the library, her job and her ambition to harness the power of books to enrich children’s lives.
Penguin paperback, £8.99