Review by Nicola Smith – Short Book and Scribes
Publisher: Zaffre 2nd September 2021
ISBN: 978-1838773694 HB
I absolutely adored this warm-hearted book. It’s charming, moving and funny and it has books in it. What more could you possibly need?
June Jones is a library assistant at Chalcot Library. She’s 28 and has worked there for 8 years since she lost her mum. In fact, it’s her mum’s former job that she’s doing. She loves the library and helping people. After all, it’s not just about books. It’s a community hub for people like Stanley to come and use the computer, or Chantal to study in peace. June’s life has been on hold really and she hasn’t been able to move on in the last 8 years and now the library is threatened with closure, as so many are these days. So commences the campaign to save it, run by the very people who get so much out of the library.
This is such a gorgeous read. I never wanted to put it down. Freya Sampson has created a set of characters I wanted to know and an environment I wanted to be a part of. June is really timid and it was wonderful to watch her grow in confidence throughout the book and learn to take a chance on her future. I also found myself smiling at the warmth of the story and laughing sometimes too at some of the characters and the things they say and do, like Mrs B and her very forthright manner, or Vera who caused me to do a double-take at one point.
It’s a bittersweet read in many ways. My local library was threatened with closure and is now run by volunteers and whilst it’s brilliant that a community can work together in this way, it’s such a shame that libraries aren’t seen as essential services. It’s also a story of loss and dealing with grief, and a reminder that there is so much more to a person than what is on the surface. The Last Library is a complete and utter joy to read from first page until last. It’s written in a light and easy style but provides the reader with emotion and joy. I loved it so much.