Review: The Library at the Edge of the World / by Madeleine Riley


Note: Top Shelf Text received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

I'll be totally honest, I have been in a strange reading mood this month. One of the goals I set for myself in 2018 is to be really mindful of picking the right book at the right time, as well as slowing my reading pace to allow for more thoughtful experiences with the books I choose. More thoughts on those goals coming soon, but because I've been feeling stuck when browsing my shelves for my next read, I've gravitated towards books that are more inside my reading comfort zone. The Library at the Edge of the World was a perfect choice for me this month as I navigate this season of life & reading. As the title suggests, this is a book for book lovers, but also a book for those feeling adrift in their own communities and are searching for belonging.

The Library at the Edge of the World follows a middle-aged woman named Hanna Casey. While at first glance, Hanna's life may seem picturesque -- a local job as head librarian in her hometown on the gorgeous cliffs of Ireland -- Hanna's life is a bit of a mess. She lives with her aging mother, is always missing her own teenage daughter while she's out exploring the globe, and resents her ex-husband for ruining the life she had built before their divorce. Hanna hadn't planned to live in her struggling hometown of Finfarran -- but when she found her husband in bed with a family friend, thus revealing a twenty-year affair, Hanna uprooted her socialite London life to recuperate in the safety of her childhood home. Now, she's tired of her reserved life and wants a fresh start. An inheritance in the form of a dilapidated cottage presents Hanna with an opportunity to create the home that she's desperately in need of, and gives her an opportunity to put down roots in a community that she's held at arms length.

While the premise of this book is nothing new -- a broken relationship, the need to start over, and a project for the main character to use as therapy -- I really enjoyed reading this story. I loved the unfamiliar setting, and found myself pining for a trip to Ireland to see the gorgeous views that are described throughout. I also liked the rhythm of this story. It was a slower read for me, and more gentle than many of the books I've read lately. I liked rooting Hanna on as she found her footing and gained independence from her former life, and I found myself cheering on her community too. This novel falls into a category previously defined as "chick lit" but now more often referred to as "women's fiction" and although I sometimes scoff at that labeling for obvious reasons, I'm finding myself more open to reading similar books this year! There are two other books taking place in the same location and with recurring characters, so if you pick up the first and like me, find yourself a new fan of Felicity Hayes-McCoy, then make sure to pick up the others too!

Bottom-Line Rating: 4/5

  • Title: The Library at the Edge of the World
  • Author: Felicity Hayes-McCoy
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • Price: $11 on Amazon
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Haper Perennial