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!

Topics:  book review

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Country Club becomes the centre of power

GENERATION: Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy Ben Franklin, presenting the funding to the Club - General Manager Andrew Spice, Golf Director Ian Wingad, Chairman Peter Tomaros, Treasurer Anne Slater, and Director Tony Dahl.

Grant to Shore emergency centre

An evening of Muslim Sufi music with Tahir Qawwal

LOCAL: Canadian-born Tahir Qawwal.

Qawwali is a form of Sufi devotional music from Pakistan and India

Beauty and the Beast as a ballet

TROUPE: Dancers Elise Jacques and William Douglas.

By the Victorian State Ballet

Local Partners