Travel to a fictional yet no less real peninsula on the west coast of Ireland with this tale from new to me author Felicity Hayes-McCoy. An area comprised of several small towns and far-flung farms, and families with stories, long memories and plenty of tradition, please read on for my review of
The Library at the Edge of the World
Some twenty-odd years earlier, Hanna Casey fled the oppressing and limiting Finfarran peninsula heading for London and dreams to work with art, maintaining library collections. But, a whirlwind romance and subsequent pregnancy led to a marriage. With the loss of that pregnancy and a decade-later birth of her daughter, she thought her life complete. But, when the realization came that her now ex-husband had a long-standing affair with a family friend, she packed up herself and her daughter and ran home. Refusing even a penny from her ex, she’s reinvented herself as a prim, proper and perhaps even coldly efficient librarian in the little town of Lissbeg, rebuffing opportunities for friendship and closeness with everyone.
What emerges here is the slow unraveling and unburdening of Hanna’s grief, as she learns to see just who her ex-husband is, her own vulnerability and willingness to take a backseat to everyone else’s ideas, her own discontent with her mother and the gradual definition of her own life, made in her own making. Sure there are huge and small missteps, some impulsive decisions and outbursts on her part and a little piece of land with an overgrown garden, leaky roof and field full of abandoned appliances, she starts to find a path. Never easy or solely gentle, the self-interest that spurred Hanna’s growth was gradual, she often could be found kicking and screaming (metaphorically) with her ‘face like the backside of a chicken’ being her go-to expression through much of the story.
But, what is most striking is the changes in Hanna – it isn’t that we get to know her better, for she is almost wholly unlikable in her pity-party prickles out persona early on, but the changes, the flashes of optimism and determination that arise through each moment she sees something new, or takes a moment to really listen. The strength from the elderly nun, the desperation of her assistant Conor, the brightness and optimism of the girls at HaberDashery, her mum, her daughter and so many others, the story reads simply with plenty of moments, characters and conflicts that brighten and enliven the read. The growth and changes in Hanna were contrasted with the rehab of her little cottage and the stalwart, strange and always bartering Fury and the Divil, you’ll want to head to this little peninsula, see the gardens and seal-cove and visit the new illuminated text in the Lissbeg Library.
Title: The Library at the Edge of the World
Author: Felicity Hayes-McCoy
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Family Saga, Irish, Setting: Ireland
Published by: Harper Perennial
Published on: 14 November, 2017
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 9 Hours: 42 minutes
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As she drives her mobile library van between villages of Ireland’s West Coast, Hanna Casey tries not to think about a lot of things. Like the sophisticated lifestyle she abandoned after finding her English barrister husband in bed with another woman. Or that she’s back in Lissbeg, the rural Irish town she walked away from in her teens, living in the back bedroom of her overbearing mother’s retirement bungalow. Or, worse yet, her nagging fear that, as the local librarian and a prominent figure in the community, her failed marriage and ignominious return have made her a focus of gossip.
With her teenage daughter, Jazz, off traveling the world and her relationship with her own mother growing increasingly tense, Hanna is determined to reclaim her independence by restoring a derelict cottage left to her by her great-aunt. But when the threatened closure of the Lissbeg Library puts her personal plans in jeopardy, Hanna finds herself leading a battle to restore the heart and soul of the Finfarran Peninsula’s fragmented community. And she’s about to discover that the neighbors she’d always kept at a distance have come to mean more to her than she ever could have imagined.
Told with heart, wry wit, and charm, The Library at the Edge of the World is a joyous story about the meaning of home and the importance of finding a place where you truly belong.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: