Thursday 13 February 2020

Review: The Telephone Box Library by Rachael Lucas

A heartwarming and uplifting story about fresh starts and new beginnings, set in a picturesque Cotswold village, by Rachael Lucas.
Burnt out after ten years at the chalkboard, Lucy's taken a sabbatical from her job as a history teacher to focus on some research. She moves to a tiny Cotswolds cottage which comes with a reduced rent in exchange for keeping a daily eye on Bunty, an extremely feisty nonagenarian.
She arrives at the cottage with boxes, bags, and her faithful west highland terrier Hamish, but Bunty claims to know nothing about the agreement - it's been arranged by Margaret, her interfering daughter-in-law.
Lucy's only goal is to relax and focus on doing some research on the women of nearby Bletchley Park. But the villagers of Little Maudley have other ideas, and she finds herself caught up in the campaign to turn the dilapidated telephone box at the heart of the village into a volunteer-run library. In the process, she makes friends with treehouse designer Sam and his friend Mel, and finds herself falling for the charms of village life.
Bunty slowly warms to Lucy, and confesses that the telephone box has special memories for her - it's the place where she used to exchange secret messages with a Canadian airman stationed nearby during the war.
But that's not the only secret Bunty has been keeping for all these years. Meanwhile Lucy's new friend Sam is trying to get to the bottom of the sudden change in his teenage daughter Freya.
His best friend Mel is wrapped up with work, but he's hoping that Lucy might help him uncover what's going on and why she is keeping secrets of her own. As Lucy and Sam uncover Bunty's story and the sleepy village's part in the war, their friendship grows...

Review: I have to admit that going into this book I thought it was purely going to be about a community turning an old phone box into a library, and I was ok with that, but this was about so much more. This book is about community, about your priorities in life and also about challenging what you think you know. 

My biggest takeaway from this book, aside from those that I just mentioned is the accurate representation of teaching in England and the stress that that can bring. Having left teaching myself a couple of years ago I can really really relate to main character Lucy. Just listening to the way her life was before moving to Little Maudley brought back some anxiety for me and so a round of applause to Rachael Lucas for telling it like it is here, and also what life can be like when you take a step back and slow down to a walking pace. 

I really loved getting to know all the residents of Little Maudley and finding out about all of their life complications. Each of these characters has their own storyline and their own interests in Lucy's storyline as well. I love the fact that we have various people who've started their own business and then we have the history side of things too. 

I really enjoyed the fact that this book also covers some of the things that happened at Bletchely park. I don't know an awful lot about Bletchley itself but I have read books and seen films about the code girls and the important role they played in the war effort and so seeing it be crucial to a book life this was wonderful, it adds another layer of depth to the book and was really enjoyable. 

If you like books with real characters and multiple sub plots to keep you turning the pages, you will enjoy this one and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more telephone box libraries next time I am back in the UK!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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