Saturday, June 4, 2016

Book Review: The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry (translated by Sian Reynolds)

Release date: February 14, 2013 (publication of English translation, published originally in 2010)
Author links: Goodreads
Publisher: Maclehose Press
Pages: 92
Purchase links: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

One morning a librarian finds a reader who has been locked in overnight.

She starts to talk to him, a one-way conversation that soon gathers pace as an outpouring of frustrations, observations and anguishes. Two things shine through: her shy, unrequited passion for a quiet researcher named Martin, and an ardent and absolute love of books.

A delightful flight of fancy for the lonely bookworm in all of us…



A short, fairly entertaining soliloquy presented by one of the most wonderfully annoying characters I've come across in a while. 

I found this little book from my local library while browsing their section of novels in English. Since I was in the mood for quick, short reads, I decided to pick it up. And while it was not life changing or even all that wonderful, it did entertain me for its duration and introduced me to one of the most annoying characters I've come across with in a while.

The Unrequited Love is set in a library. The narrator of the novel is a librarian and one morning she finds a man from her section of the library, a man who has slept there since no one noticed him the night before around closing time. While waiting for the library to open, the narrator starts to speak to the man (very one-sidedly) about her life, her education, her regrets and, of course, books. What comes evident from her "rant" is that she has a crush/slight obsession of a much younger man called Martin and that she does not seem to like anyone very much, not even herself. And while she tries to express how people she work with seem to hold themselves into a higher standard, she herself really is a one big snob, in a very wonderful and entertaining way.

The novel is set within a very short span of time (morning before the opening time), but the narrator covers a lot of time with her soliloquy - she tells tales of failed relationships, tales from the library, tales about Martin, and so on. The other character does not really get to say anything, so be prepared for one very long rant from one character. 

This one was extremely quick to read, just as I imagined. I picked this one up without any expectations - I had never heard about this one, and I did not even get the Goodreads page before reading this one (shocker, I know!). 

There is an undercurrent of bitterness throughout this novel. While the narrator says that she is somewhat happy with her existence, the way she talks about her past and for example the multiple times she failed exams and such, makes it seem like she really never got the life she imagined. She is surrounded by the things she loves (books), but it seems like she herself has never really learned to love herself and her life as it is. I think it was extremely interesting to read how this bitterness is weaved into a lot of the things the narrator says and how it can be seen from underneath all the denial.

As said, The Library of Unrequited Love probably won't change your life (at least it didn't change mine), but if you do get a chance to pick this one up and are looking for a quick read, I recommend picking it up. The narrator is so gloriously annoying and pretentious at times that only for that it is worth a read. There are also some wonderful quotes about reading and books to be found from this book, so just for those, this one is worth a browse.


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