The Librarian by Sally Vickers

Book Review

In 1958, Sylvia Blackwell, fresh from one of the new post-war Library Schools, takes up a job as children’s librarian in a run-down library in the market town of East Mole.

Her mission is to fire the enthusiasm of the children of East Mole for reading. But her love affair with the local married GP, and her befriending of is precious daughter, her neighbour’s son and her landlady’s neglected grandchild, ignite the prejudices of the town, threatening her job and the very existence of the library with dramatic consequences for them all.

A sweet, gentle read and a wonderful observation of rural life in the 1950’s/60’s.

I thought this was a perfectly paced novel with a great feel for it’s setting and time. You could clearly see that the author had done her research into making this so. I could quiet easily picture the cottages and walks into town that are described in the book. The characters are warm, imperfect and totally believable.

The author clearly has a passion for children’s literature, and strongly believes in the benefits of reading, not just for enjoyment and escapism but also the advantages it gives children in their learning and schooling. I felt this book wasn’t necessary about libraries but about children’s books and children’s education. Particularly of its time setting with the 11+ and the ‘difference’ it could make depending on what school a child went to. It is also a story of a new comer moving into a rural town and it’s inhabitants and social ways. A great snapshot of a time and place.

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