STARRED REVIEW
April 07, 2015

Love and loss, at the library

By Sophie Divry
What happens when a book meets its perfect reader at precisely the right moment? For the narrator of The Library of Unrequited Love, a librarian who has witnessed many such encounters during her lifetime, her heart flutters.
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What happens when a book meets its perfect reader at precisely the right moment? For the narrator of The Library of Unrequited Love, a librarian who has witnessed many such encounters during her lifetime, her heart flutters. She knows the power of books to capture the full range of human experience and, as a result, help people when they feel their most abandoned, lonely and worthless.

It is at one of these low points that we meet the librarian, a single, middle-aged bookworm who fell in love, once, but was left. While preparing to open the library one morning, she finds a patron who has locked himself in the library’s basement, where the narrator spends most of her time, overnight. A monologue follows in which she gushes with observations about love, life and, you guessed it, libraries.

The Library of Unrequited Love, a debut novel by French writer and journalist Sophie Divry, is as much an ode to libraries as it is a monologue on heartbreak and loneliness. The narrator’s passion for literature, French history and the organizational precision of libraries is infectious. She is as knowledgeable about the history written in books as she is about the world before her, which she captures effortlessly through observations about different “seasons” of patrons—winter’s “central heating refugees,” spring’s students, summer’s buzz of people searching for something to do.

And though it would be easy for her to romanticize the library, she doesn’t. She admits its hierarchy, its monotonous drone and its lack of quality books and readers, while she also confesses her love for a student researcher who barely notices her. In many ways, the narrator is looking for love as much as she is that spark she sees her patrons experience in books.

Funny, smart and incredibly sincere, The Library of Unrequited Love is a lovely, quick read that speaks to the bookworm in all of us.

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The Library of Unrequited Love

The Library of Unrequited Love

By Sophie Divry
MacLehose Press
ISBN 9781623654030

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