Friday, December 20, 2019

The Library at the Edge of the World, by Felicity Hayes-McCoy (author), Emma Lowe (narrator)

Dreamscape Media, ISBN 9781520085265, December 2017 (original publication November 2016)

Hanna Casey returned home to the west of Ireland, daughter Jasmine in tow, after finding her English husband, barrister Malcolm Turner, in bed with another woman. Jasmine is now finished school and working as a flight attendant, and Hanna is alone with her controlling, negative mother in her mother's bungalow. Hanna is the librarian at the Lissbeg Library, running that branch of the county library system, and driving a bookmobile around the area two days a week. And in her quest for a more peaceful, satisfying life, she's set her sights on renovating the decaying cottage that she inherited from her great-aunt, Maggie Cassey. Then she learns of a plan to reorganize county services--and eliminate her job.

This is a book filled with interesting, quirky, often difficult characters, most of whom have their good points, who are often in conflict even when they're working toward the same end. Hanna has spent  the last few years being cool and withdrawn, and now everything she cares about accomplishing will force her to step out of herself and form friendships and alliances. Her assistant at the library, Connor, sends her a builder, Fury O'Shea. Fury is high-handed, difficult, keeps his phone turned off, and brings his little terrier, called "the Divil," with him everywhere. He's also, she slowly realizes, the only one who will do justice to Maggie's cottage and her hopes for it. A library user conducting a systematic search for one particular book of which he recalls only that there's a dog on the cover, turns up a valuable old book, the garden book from the nearby convent--which is now down to just two nuns, one of whom is in seriously declining health. This leads to a meeting with the other nun, Sister Michael, which in turn leads t a plan to restore the convent garden.

This becomes the core of an undercover organizing effort to build a plan to replace the county's reorganization plan with one better suited to serve the entire county, not just the two towns that are the two major tourist destinations. The sandwich shop near the library has graphic design skills. A friend of Connor's has web design and programming skills. A retired man who loves to bake starts baking sweets for the sandwich shop. A retired road engineer becomes the head of a subcommittee working on a piece of the proposal that will address the bad roads in the area. Fishermen in one of the tourist towns hear that this group doesn't like the proposed new marina--and show up to explain how bad the marina will be for the professional fishermen, who will lose the pier they rely on while the cruise ships do real damage to the marine life in the area.

It's one unexpected connection after another, true community organizing, and a wonderful interplay of personalities. This is an absorbing and satisfying story.


I bought this audiobook.

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