Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Lending Library

  The Lending Library
Author:  Aliza Fogelson
Publication Information:  Lake Union Publishing. 2020. 299 pages.
ISBN:  1503904016 / 978-1503904019

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "I was sniffing glue again."

Favorite Quote:  "This little library was going to do so much good for the people of Chatsworth. Thinking about it made my cheeks glow like the windows of my beloved book-filled retreat, a shelter against lonely nights or difficult days for anyone who wanted to come inside."

I love books about books and libraries and people who love books. This book had me at the title and the cover. I loved the initial concept. A neighborhood library in Chatsworth, Connecticut, is closing. A young woman decides that is simply not acceptable. She opens a little library of her own in a room in her home. The project takes on a life of its own and brings a community together. Sweet, charming, and totally up my alley. The fact that it has a reference (if your recognize it) to The Princess Bride makes the set up all the more appealing. I don't know if the connection is purposeful or intentional, but a reference to "rodents of unusual size" could not be coincidental, could it?

I am not quite sure what to make of the main character, Dodie Fairisle. She is an art teacher. She is a book lover. She is a woman of a certain age concerned about finding a partner and starting a family. She lives independently in her own home. She is surrounded by family and friends. Yet, at times, her character does not come across as the mature, adult woman this description might imply. One particularly memorable phrase thought at an interaction with a man ... "flambĂ©ed my underwear" ... epitomizes the dichotomy between the two visions of the character. Ewww and really?

The character seems not to change or evolve through the book. In its execution, the storyline, however, goes in so many different directions. The library and the community feature but so does infertility, the biological clock, a baby, sisterhood, romance, adoption, death, sexual orientation, religion, and, at some level, a unsafe/unwelcoming home environment for a child. The seriousness of the issues that enter the book belie the sweet, light-hearted set up. Each one of these topics could lead to a book on their own; in fact, each of these topics has led to many book centered of each one individually. These topics are serious enough and important enough to warrant that attention. Put all together, this story does not appear to do justice to any one. Some story lines appear summarily addressed, and some seem to disappear completely with no resolution. That is unfortunate for it appears to undermine the issues themselves.

Some of these issues involve other people in Dodie's life and yet Dodie's story moves from thing to thing. This fact unfortunately makes Dodie a relatively unlikable character. The cursory way in which such serious topics are address make her seem shallow and self-centered. I found myself wanting to know more about some of the secondary characters whose heartache seemed so much more real.

The title of the book - the lending library - was the reason I chose to read this book. Sadly, that entire storyline becomes almost a side note in the entire book. It gets lost as does almost every other story thread. I am disappointed that this was not the book I expected. I was definitely not the right reader for what this book actually is.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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