I made the mistake of declining to take part in the blog tour for The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander because I was snowed under with tours in March, but lovely Ellen Turner at Orion kindly sent me a copy for review anyway. I’d just finished a book when The Littlest Library arrived and so I picked it up to have a look at the first page. Two hours later I was still reading and not doing what I was supposed to be doing. Then, I had a tour postponed for today so it gives me enormous pleasure to share my review of Poppy Alexander’s book on publication day.
The Littlest Library is published by Orion, today 18th March 2021 and is available to buy through these links.
The Littlest Library
It’s only the beginning of her story…
Jess Metcalf is perfectly happy with her quiet, predictable life – it’s just the way she likes it. But when her beloved grandmother passes away and she loses her job at the local library, her life is turned upside-down.
Packing up her grandmother’s books, she moves to a tiny cottage in a charming country village. To her surprise, Jess finds herself the owner of an old red telephone box, too – and she soon turns it into the littlest library around!
It’s not long before the books are borrowed and begin to work their magic – somehow, they seem to be bringing the villagers together once more…
Maybe it’s finally time for Jess to follow her heart and find a place to call home?
My Review of The Littlest Library
Jess needs a new direction in life.
The Littlest Library is an absolute treat of a book. Poppy Alexander writes with warmth and humanity and some glorious touches of natural imagery that make this story a joy to read.
I loved the characters residing in Middlemas. Jess, of course, takes centre stage, but she is so realistic of the self-fulfilling prophecies that many of us steer our lives by, that I found her instantly likeable and extremely easy to relate to. I so wanted her to find happiness. In creating Middlemas, Poppy Alexander illustrates with absolute clarity, and considerable tenderness, the types of people who live in these communities. There’s the perfect amount of back story for all threaded into Jess’s narrative to bring alive characters like Diana and Rebecca totally realistically. I felt I knew each person thoroughly. I particularly loved the way in which Mimi is the catalyst for so much of the action. Her death, her books and her annotations help bring about relationships, resolutions and happiness for so many in Middlemas and yet she isn’t physically present. I thought this was such skilful writing.
The plot is, of course, typical of its genre with the trials and tribulations of finding love and happiness and I think that is what makes The Littlest Library such a triumph. I read it when I wanted a touching, romantic story that I could rely on to bring me joy. The Littlest Library did that completely.
However, whilst The Littlest Library is a perfect example of romantic women’s fiction, that doesn’t mean to say it is lightweight. Poppy Alexander explores themes of community and belonging, identity and grief, duty and expectation, ambition and suppression with complete accomplishment. There are so many kinds of relationship illustrated in this lovely story. Obviously romance plays its part, but relationships between sisters, friends, husbands and wives, parents and children and so on give depth and colour to the story so that readers can identify with characters and situations beautifully.
I thoroughly enjoyed escaping to Middlemas and being part of the village community for a while. Reading Poppy Alexander’s The Littlest Library was like taking a short, restorative break in a place I love. It’s well written, entertaining and completely uplifting. I really recommend it most highly.
About Poppy Alexander
Poppy Alexander wrote her first book when she was five. There was a long gap in her writing career while she was at school, and after studying classical music at university, she decided the world of music was better off without her and took up public relations, campaigning, political lobbying and a bit of journalism instead. She takes an anthropological interest in family, friends and life in her West Sussex village (think, The Archers crossed with Twin Peaks) where she lives with her husband, children and various other pets.