Another book for Reading Ireland Month, co-hosted by Cathy at 746 Books, and you can read all about the reading challenge here. Shockingly, I’m going to have to double-post today as I have another Reading Ireland Month book I’ve read plus another to review this month, before I even get to my Iris Murdoch round-up on the last day of the month! That’s what you get for having a reviewing lull but not a reading one.

Anyway, I was attracted to this book because it’s about a rural library, and what librarian hasn’t wanted to run a library in a small town or by the sea? OK, I’m not a librarian now anyway, but that kind of thing sticks. Read on to find out about a lovely feed-good book with a real sense of community and a range of characters – a bit like Cathy Kelly’s novel, actually!

Felicity Hayes-McCoy – “The Library at the Edge of the World”

(18 June 2017, possibly The Works)

Hanna ran away home to Ireland when her marriage went wrong: things are a bit better now her daughter’s living independently, but she’s still trapped in her mother’s garish bungalow and still pretending the divorce was amicable. Can Hanna reclaim her own life, possibly in the cottage her grumpy great-aunt left her, even though she, too, has distanced herself from the community? Will she and optimistic Conor the library assistant ever agree on what’s appropriate use of a library space?

When budget cuts and cronyism threaten her library and other services on the imaginary Finfarran Peninsula, the whole community does come together, but in a plausible and realistic way, and I liked this big most. There’s local youngsters and their fancy deli pulling together with young mums, incomers and old families, resourceful OAPs, glad to be useful again, and the odd nun. We get the full range from meddling priests with power to hold on to to the isolated lord of the manor and (yes) his giant nightmare boiler.

Not everything is tied up neatly, and there are a few hiccups along the way, but there’s the possibility of a new beginning for Hanna – especially when her intractable and exasperating builder, along with his horrible little dog, deigns to return her own house to her.

It took me a few chapters to warm to this book but the author, who lives in Ireland herself and has written non-fiction books about settling in and doing up her home, has a great feel for communities and the people in them and it’s a warm and positive book that ended up a joy to read.


One more book confession, which arrived from pre-order today. I follow Lynne Murphy’s “Separated by a Common Language” blog so I just had to order her new book, “The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between British and American English” – useful for my work as a localiser, of course!