Ellie Astor is the face of her family’s media empire. She spends most evenings on a red carpet, and most days with a team of people preparing her to be camera ready. To the world she looks like she has it all – well, truthfully she does … fame, fortune, recognition, and the expectation that she will very soon take over the position at the helm of the company. She’s been born and bred into the role. Is it something she wants though? Most definitely not! Ellie would prefer to spend as much time as possible with her nose buried in a book, blocking the rest of the clamouring world out! Her brother Teddy would love to be given the chance to run the company, but their parents have frozen him out due to a number of his irresponsible exploits when he was younger.
When Ellie sees an advert for the post of librarian for the struggling library in the village of Willow Grove she immediately has memories of the place from her school years and knows this is the way out she’s been looking for. She’s sure she can bring the library back to the community gathering place it should be; a vital, vibrant centre of village life. She just needs a few tweaks here and there: a change of hair colour, some glasses, oh … and a name change. Well not exactly a change, calling herself Elodie Halifax, she applies for, and gets the job – and that is in fact, her real name! (You’ll have to read the book to understand why!) With a bit of subterfuge and help from Teddy, she leaves her high-flying role and heads for village life. It’s not quite the sunshine and rainbows she expected.
The library is dismal! They haven’t been able to order new books in 10 years! And it comes with a miserable assistant too. But Elodie is determined to make this work, and I loved seeing how she wasn’t just an air-headed media queen. She had genuinely brilliant ideas as to how things could immediately be improved. She put all she’d learnt in her parents’ company into making the library work smarter. But it still wasn’t enough.
Even more upsetting than the awful state of the library was the disappointing way of life in the village. Elodie assumed that small-town living encouraged supporting each other, helping your neighbours, and everyone being friendly or civil. She couldn’t have got it more wrong. She discovers that small-town equals small-minded, and she’s shocked at how mean people are in her new hometown. The name-calling and unwillingness to get to know people and their problems is something she can’t deal with, especially when someone tells her that he’s been made to feel ‘invisible’. Until she comes up with a way to incorporate this into her plan to save the library.
Having come across four particular people who have encountered extreme hardship and difficulty, leading to a lack of acceptance by the village, Elodie realises that residents treat others this way simply because they don’t know the full story, and therefore can’t understand them, which is why they find it easier to avoid them. She decides that as the library has no budget to buy new books, why not loan out people? Everyone has a story to tell, especially these misunderstood people! Library members can ‘borrow’ a person for half an hour and listen to their story. Will people be willing to come and listen to a ‘misfit’ talk about their life and how they landed up here?
What a delightful book! I adored Elodie, right from the minute at the beginning of the book when she’s completely engrossed in ‘The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes‘, which is one of my all-time favourite books ever! I loved the way the author incorporated well known book titles into the story. The message is not a subtle one: don’t believe everything you hear; treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect; don’t judge (a book by it’s cover) a person only by what you see on the outside; when someone speaks, don’t just ‘hear’ them, learn to truly listen – so much of what they’re saying is in what they don’t say. Okay, so not just one message, a few really powerful ones!
This is a great 4-star read, and an absolute must if you’re a book lover! Thank you to Rara Resources for the blog tour …