Oh, this is a lovely, absolutely charming story of a woman who was lost and is now found. Or maybe more than one woman and in more ways than one.

The Library of Lost and Found centres around Martha Storm. She works in a library but is also an unpaid skivvy for everyone, it seems. She takes in washing for someone from her reading group, she hems her nephew’s trousers, she offers to help mend a Chinese dragon for the local school and so much more, and these jobs are cluttering up her house and her life. She thrives on being helpful and making lists, and yet underneath it all she knows that her life is severely lacking love, fun, friendship, family and cake!

A book of fairy tales is what starts to change everything for Martha. It turns up unexpectedly, left for her on the library doorstep, and the message handwritten inside is for her from her beloved grandmother, Zelda. The message gives Martha food for thought and questions what she thought she knew: that Zelda had died more than thirty years ago. It also makes her look back over her childhood with her controlling father and a mother who let herself be controlled by him.

I loved so much about this book. I thought Martha was a wonderful character and I really wanted her to stop people from walking all over her. I loved the detective work she carried out regarding Zelda (another fantastic character) and how it led to a transformation in not only the way Martha behaved towards others, but in how she felt about herself.

The title is so apt. So much is lost and found in this book, not particularly physical items, but people, emotions, self-worth, friendship. In amongst the narrative are stories that Martha, her mother Betty, and Zelda, used to make up when Martha was younger. Martha had lost the ability to do this along with her confidence and her spark, but we are treated to some of the stories and I thought that was a lovely touch.

Phaedra Patrick is a talented writer. I loved The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper and I loved The Library of Lost and Found. I suppose they might be termed feel-good fiction and I certainly closed this book with a satisfied sigh. The quirky and likeable characters and the unusual storyline with a mystery element really made this a winner for me.

Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes, 5/4

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick
HQ 9780008237646 pbk Jun 2019