I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander
Published by THORNDIKE Press on October 12, 2022
Genres: Fiction / Romance / General, Fiction / Small Town & Rural, Fiction / Women
Format: ARC, eBook, Paperback
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A heartwarming literary-themed novel about a woman who turns an ordinary red phone box into the littlest library in England and brings together a struggling town.
A little red telephone box full of stories, a chance to change her life...
Jess Metcalf is perfectly content with her quiet, predictable life. But when her beloved grandmother passes away and she loses her job at the local library, Jess’ life is turned upside down.
Determined to pick up the pieces, Jess decides it’s time for a new beginning. Unable to part with her grandmother’s cherished books, she packs them all up and moves to a tiny cottage in the English countryside. To her surprise, Jess discovers that she’s now the owner of an old red phone box that was left on the property. Missing her job at the local library, Jess decides to give back to her new community—using her grandmother’s collection to turn the ordinary phone box into the littlest library in England.
It’s not long before the books are borrowed and begin to work their literary magic—bringing the villagers together... and managing to draw Jess’ grumpy but handsome neighbor out of his shell.
Maybe it’s finally time for Jess to follow her heart, let go of her old life, and make the village her home? But will she be able to take the leap?
Parts of The Little Library worked well, other parts not so much and while I’m not sorry I read it I was disappointed in the way it ended because it felt unfinished. ~ Sharon – Simply Love Books
I’ll admit the cover and they synopsis for The Littlest Library caught my eye and from the description I could tell this book was more women’s fiction than romance, so I wasn’t too disappointed that the “romance” in this book didn’t come to fruition until the very, very end, but honestly I think the book would have been stronger if that part of the story had been left out because it was flipping frustrating.
Jess is a young 30 something woman who lived with the grandmother who raised her since age 4 and worked as a librarian until it recently closed, now at a loss as to what to do with her life she makes a decision to sell the only home she remembers and change her life something her Mimi (grandmother) had always talked about. One a drive she stumbles across a run-down cottage for sale and without even really looking at it puts in an offer. I personally felt Jess was having a bit of a breakdown making rash decisions without thinking but she ends up moving into the cottage in Middlemass, a very small and dying town and finds that she is responsible for doing something with the abandoned red telephone call box that sits on the edge of her property.
We find as this story meanders on that Jess has never maintained close friendships other than her best friend who lives out of the country and who she speaks to about once a week via Facetime. Her friend seems to think Jess needs to take risks and chances and maybe she does, but for someone who has been extremely careful all her life selling her home, buying one she barely looked at, and moving without even thinking about the job market this was big, huge even.
After a parish council meeting it is decided that Jess will make the telephone call box a little library and she sets out to do this with the help of her neighbor Aidan who is volunteered to build the shelves. Jess sees this as a perfect use since she was told she can’t remove it and she has 10 boxes of her grandmother’s books that she wants to share with the town. I loved this part of the story how she makes the library a place for her neighbors and the townspeople to discover old favorites again, find new books, and gather as they wait their turn. Jess begins to mingle with the people, she makes friends, and she begins to fall in love with her new town. I loved watching the changes in her as she tends the overgrown garden, begins to restore her cottage, finds ways to help people she’s met, and gives back to the community by offering to help with solutions to problems. What didn’t work for me was the weird supposed romance between Jess and Aidan whose ex-wife visits frequently and stays in his home with him and their daughter albeit in the guest room and has made it known she doesn’t like seeing Aidan around Jess. Honestly it was uncomfortable reading there was nothing in their interactions that made me think they were really into one another, then there was an almost kiss interrupted by the ex-wife, then a real kiss that was awkward, not to mention half the town trying to throw them together and it felt forced and uncomfortable. I rather liked both Jess and Aidan and I think had the ex-wife not been in so much of this book that maybe a slow burn romance between them would have been nice, but instead it fell flat throughout the majority of the book and then boom right at the end a bit of hope that it will happen. Two big thumbs down because I then felt cheated instead of happy.
Parts of this story worked well, other parts not so much and while I’m not sorry I read it I was disappointed in the way it ended because it felt unfinished.