Review: The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry

What happens when someone is locked in overnight at a library?

One morning a librarian finds a reader who has been locked in overnight. She begins to talk to him, a one-way conversation full of sharp insight and quiet outrage. As she rails against snobbish senior colleagues, an ungrateful and ignorant public, the strictures of the Dewey Decimal System and the sinister expansionist conspiracies of the books themselves, two things shine through: her unrequited passion for a researcher named Martin, and an ardent and absolute love for the arts.

This slim volume manages to pack in much more than its diminutive size would suggest. Told in just the one narrative voice, this long meandering monologue packs in digressions from the history of the Dewey Decimal System to the nature of librarians. Selected as one of the titles for the new Waterstones Book Club, it is clearly written by someone who enjoys books, bookshops and libraries and aimed at those of a similar nature.

Yet is is tinged with sadness. Our narrator, the librarian, latches on to the reader, spilling her heart and her knowledge to him. Stuck within the Geography section she spots Martin, a visitor to the library who she watches from afar yet longs to speak to. He is her burning passion but you are left feeling that this story may not have a happy ending.

At under a hundred pages this is a delightful book that you can consume in one sitting and come away from it touched, moved and informed.

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