Book review: The Library of Unrequited Love

BOOK: The Library of Unrequited Love
AUTHOR: Sophie Divry
PUBLISHER: Maclehose Pres, Pan Macmillan Aust
RRP: $19.99

THE "librarian" image is often that of a neat little lady of mature years, hair in a bun and glasses perched on her nose.

Near-sighted through years of having her head in books, she is the archetypal figure that we all recognise.

French author Sophie Divry has written a charming short story (with a colloquial translation by Sian Reynolds that retains its French piquancy).

In the first person, the unnamed narrator reveals herself as a lonely soul and perhaps a bit tiresome after 25 years of doing the same job; putting books back on shelves.

She is however, admirably astute; small wonder after reading so many books, resulting in a very perceptive view of writers and their foibles. Her strongly-voiced opinions make this book very engaging, with never a dull moment in her solitary company.

A monologue such as this may be as challenging as a one-man show, but Divry lasts the course and entertains the reader throughout with witty discourses on Sartre, de Beauvoir, Robespierre and other luminaries of French history, with a few digs at the "ungrateful and ignorant" reading public thrown in for good measure.

Coming in to work one morning, our narrator finds a stranger locked in the library basement.

He, too, remains anonymous but serves as a sounding-post for her opinions on books, history, the state of society today and for her unrequited love for a young student, Martin, who comes to the history section every day.

If you think soliloquies are dull, not so. I devoured this quirky, whimsical story in a single sitting.

In a word, enchanting. Voila!

Our chefs compete against state's best

Our chefs compete against state's best

Tweed chefs battle it out in cooking competition.

Telstra service pain

Telstra service pain

Pottsville customers continue to receive poor reception.

Plan for Kingscliff is back council's agenda

Plan for Kingscliff is back council's agenda

It's been more than a year since the draft plan was approved

Local Partners