Library assistant June knows a lot about the regulars at Chalcot Library, yet they know very little about her. When her mum – the beloved local librarian – passed away eight years ago, June stepped into her shoes. But despite their shared love of books, shy June has never felt she can live up to the village’s memory of her mum. Instead, she’s retreated into herself and her memories, surviving on Chinese takeaways-for-one and rereading their favourite books at home.
When the library is threatened with closure, a ragtag band of eccentric locals establish the Friends of Chalcot Library campaign. There’s gentlemanly pensioner Stanley, who visits the library for the computers and the crosswords, cantankerous Mrs B, who is yet to find a book she approves of, and teenager Chantal, who just wants a quiet place to study away from home. But can they compel reclusive June to join their cause?
If June wants to save the library, she finally has to make some changes to her life: opening up her heart to friendship, opportunities and maybe even more . . .
The Last Library is light and gentle read with a heartwarming storyline. You can’t help but root for the characters and hope that June saves the day. It highlights that libraries are more than just about lending books and are also a way to become involved in the community. I enjoyed the references to books throughout and what the characters were reading. The pace is slow, but picks up later. Although there are some humorous moments, this is not a romantic comedy as some would suggest and is more about the characters and the library with a hint of romance in the background. I was expecting a more substantial storyline, but there is enough in there to hold your interest.
The characters are a warmhearted bunch of differing age groups and completely different to each other. June is an extraordinarily shy and social awkward character which I’ll have to admit I found a bit irksome at times. I’m unfortunately not a fan of weak female leads and although I did empathise with her social issues I found her character a little unbelievable in some of situations presented to her and she was also quite rude and dismissive of her friends on occasion. However, her character development was good and she did start to grow stronger and more confident as the book progressed which was wonderful to see. Alex is charming, intelligent and interesting and although there was a hint of a romance between him and June it was kept very minimal. The romance was not the most ground-breaking and sadly lacking in chemistry and interaction and would not have been missed if omitted from the story altogether. Stanley added some emotional weight to the storyline and I loved his relationship with June which certainly packed more of a punch than her relationship with Alex.
On the whole an enjoyable book with an easy going and entertaining storyline. A charming read which is very safe and wholesome and, although it was not quite complex enough for me, it’s nevertheless a lovely cosy read to save for a rainy day. This is definitely one to pick up if you’re a bibliophile who loves reading about books and libraries.
Publication Date (UK): 2 September 2021
Page Count: 384
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Thank you to the publisher for the gifted advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Please do not hesitate to comment below if you liked my review or have any comments about this book 😊