Don’t you just love a book about books? I have just finished The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry (MacLehose Press), translated from the French by Sian Reynolds. It is a well-designed little hardback, less than 100 pages, and it is just delightful, in the way that just a couple of squares of good dark chocolate or a tiny but oh-so-strong espresso, is just right: rich but not too much of it, and what you have is so satisfying, you smile whenever you think about it.
It is the story of a librarian who finds a reader who has been locked in overnight. The librarian, a she, starts to talk to the reader, a he. Well, not so much talk as hold a one-way conversation that soon gathers pace as an outpouring of frustrations, observations and anguishes. I particularly enjoyed the mini-rant about Dewey of library-cataloguing fame and now I sort of get how that system works. Two things shine through: her shy, unrequited passion for a quiet researcher named Martin, and an ardent and absolute love of books.
It is funny, smart and occasionally poignant: a charming flight of fancy dedicated to “all those men and women who will always find a place for themselves in a library more easily than in society.“