Wednesday 10 August 2022

Guest Review: Elodie’s Library of Second Chances by Rebecca Raisin

Everyone has a story. You just have to read between the lines....

When Elodie applies for the job of librarian in peaceful Willow Grove, she’s looking forward to a new start. As the daughter of a media empire, her every move has been watched for years, and she longs to work with the thing she loves most: books.

It’s a chance to make a real difference, too, because she soon realises that there are other people in Willow Grove who might need a fresh start—like the homeless man everyone walks past without seeing, or the divorcée who can’t seem to escape her former husband’s misdeeds.

Together with local journalist Finn, Elodie decides these people have stories that need sharing. What if instead of borrowing books readers could ‘borrow’ a person, and hear the life stories of those they’ve overlooked?

But Elodie isn’t quite sharing her whole story either. As the story of the library’s new success grows, will her own secret be revealed?

Review: I have read a few books from Rebecca Raisin in the past, but was particularly drawn to this one by the subject, being concerned with books and a library in need of saving. I found it a little slow going to start with, but it soon began sparking my imagination and I was totally drawn into the life of its characters. Finally, I found that I didn’t want it to end, so involved was I with the main players and the little town where the story is set.

Ellie Astor, or Elodie Halifax to give her her real name, has grown disillusioned by her lavish lifestyle as the future head of her parents’ media business. Her mother in particular simply ignores her pleas to move on and make use of her qualification as a librarian and love of books. When she is offered the job of librarian at a failing library in the town of Willow Grove, Elodie jumps at the chance to follow her dream. The library is in a worse state than she could have imagined, but she is determined to turn things around, which means attracting new members. She begins to realise that many people in the small town are very judgemental, in particular towards a few of the residents, including the homeless man who almost nobody notices or the shoplifter whose motivation is never questioned. Elodie decides that, with the help of local journalist Finn, she can perhaps change people’s way of thinking and at the same time save the library from closure. Her plan is to allow members of the library to ‘borrow’ people for a short time in the same way that they would borrow books, and learn their stories rather than believe gossip that is spread about them. Of course, she herself has a secret past that she is keen to preserve, but will it be possible to keep her identity hidden from the media if her idea takes off?

As I said at the beginning of this review, I found this book a little difficult to get into, but once it had me hooked, I was not keen to put it down. What a clever, and indeed brave, idea to lend out people to tell their stories and end the rumour mongering that can so easily mar a small town like Willow Grove. The book is full of likeable characters and is set in an attractive sounding town, hopefully featuring a bustling library very soon. Some very interesting, well-developed back stories emerged from the human books who were happy to be lent out. I would love to find out what happened next for the town and its residents. I can confidently recommend this book to other readers and look forward to Rebecca Raisin’s next novel.

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

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