Published by Park Row Books 9780778369356
Hardcover, $24.99, 348 pages
Martha Storm, the main character in Phaedra Patrick's The Library of Lost and Found, describes herself as "a guardian of books". As a volunteer at her local library, she is "an event organizer, tour guide, buyer, filer, job adviser, talking clock, housekeeper, walking encyclopedia, stationery provider, recommender of somewhere nice to eat lunch and a shoulder to cry on- all rolled into one."
Martha takes on projects for people- laundering and mending clothes, reparing a tapestry for the church, caring for a friend's fish and plants that he has no room for, and so much more that her home verges on looking like a hoarder's house. People take advantage of Martha- her boss asks her to work holidays since she doesn't have a family, people at the library ask her to run errands for them.
She lives in her parents' home, where she cared for her them until they both passed away. When her boyfriend moved to America, Martha gave up her chance at love and happiness to stay behind and care for them.
One day a man who owns a nearby used bookstore leaves a book for Martha at the library. Inside the book is an inscription-
To my darling Martha Storm,
Be glorious always,
Zelda was Martha's grandmother who passed away in 1982, according to Martha's parents. How could this be? And the book is filled with stories that Martha wrote as a child with her grandmother. Martha sets out to learn where this book came from, much to the consternation of her younger sister Lilian (who doesn't treat Martha any better than everyone else).
Lilian tells her not to look any further, but Martha must find out if her beloved grandmother is still alive. As the story progresses we learn more about Martha and Lilian's childhood. Lilian was close to their father, who was harder on Martha (even unkind), discouraging her from writing her stories.
Patrick's story is sweetly moving, with characters who have many shades to them. It would be easy to make people villains (Martha's dad) or heroes (her grandmother Zelda), but each character does good things and not-so-good things. I found them to be realistic, especially the familial relationships.
I enjoyed seeing Martha learn to stand up for herself and not let people continue to take advantage of her. She decides to ask for things that she feels she deserves- like a a paying job at the library- and she grows as a person. Many readers will identify with Martha.
If you like Elizabeth Berg's The Story of Arthur Trulov and Night of Miracles, and Patrick's first novel, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, put the lovely The Library of Lost and Found on your list. (And the cover is so beautiful!)
Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Phaedra Patrick's tour. The rest of the tour stops are here:
Monday, March 25th: Reading Reality
Tuesday, March 26th: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Wednesday, March 27th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, March 27th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, March 28th: The Sketchy Reader
Monday, April 1st: @bookstackedblonde
Monday, April 1st: Into the Hall of Books
Tuesday, April 2nd: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Wednesday, April 3rd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, April 4th: The Hungry Bookworm
Thursday, April 4th: @worldswithinpages
Friday, April 5th: What is That Book About
Monday, April 8th: @thegraduatedbookworm
Monday, April 8th: Amy’s Book-et List
Wednesday, April 10th: Read Eat Repeat
Thursday, April 11th: Girl Who Reads
Friday, April 12th: Kahakai Kitchen
Tuesday, April 16th: Books & Bindings
Thursday, April 18th: A Splendid Messy Life
Friday, April 19th: @jackiereadsbooks
Monday, April 22nd: Jathan & Heather
Tuesday, April 23rd: @novelmombooks
Wednesday, April 24th: Bookchickdi
Thursday, April 25th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Friday, April 26th: Thoughts on This ‘n That