THE LAST CHANCE LIBRARY
By: Freya Sampson
Published: August 31, 2021
Library lovers, book lovers, and anyone who loves a feel-good story need to add this book to your list! Plus, doesn’t the cover make you want to run to your library?
“You are never alone when you have a good book.”Freya Sampson, THE LAST CHANCE LIBRARY
June Jones has lived her whole life in the same small English village of Chalcot. She’s lived in the same house she grew up in with her mother. Now she works in the same library where her mom worked. June’s life consists of going to work at the library, returning home, and reading a book from her mom’s bookshelf. She doesn’t go out, except for Mondays when she picks up the exact same Chinese takeout. She has never left her tiny village and her whole world revolves around the patrons that come into the library.
“Instead, June realized with a shiver, her life’s achievements could be summed up in one sad sentence: she worked at a library and her mum had died. That was the sum total of her twenty-eight years, the miserable epitaph that would be written on her gravestone.”Freya Sampson, THE LAST CHANCE LIBRARY
When the county decides it is too expensive to keep all the village libraries open, the dedicated library patrons decide to come together to protest and save their library. June is torn. She can’t imagine her life without coming into the library every day, but stepping out and making herself noticed is not something she wants to do either. Her job has also been threatened if she interferes with the council’s decision. So instead, she comes up with a plan to anonymously fight the council to save the books and the library that she can’t bear to be without.
“…the library is about so much more than simply books. Libraries are like a net, there to catch those of us in danger of falling through the cracks. That’s what we’re really fighting to protect.”Freya Sampson, THE LAST CHANCE LIBRARY
Beyond June, Sampson introduces us to a whole cast of characters including regular library patrons who all have their own reason for fighting to keep the library open. Some are obvious, but for others, it’s too painful to reveal their real reasons for spending every day at the library. Sampson’s character development allows the reader to get to know their own compelling stories. When tragedy hits Chalcot, the reader feels just as affected as the characters.
I especially appreciated that Sampson didn’t just tie this novel up with a bow and a predicted outcome. Much like life, there are hiccups and detours along the road to happiness and for the community of Chalcot, the ending may not have been what they expected, but it is exactly the way it was supposed to be.
If you are looking for a light, hopeful, and compelling story of friends who become each other’s family, then Freya Sampson’s debut novel is just for you. I certainly hope there is more to come from Sampson’s writing.
Freya Sampson works in TV and was the executive producer of Channel 4’s Four in a Bed and Gogglesprogs. She studied History at Cambridge University and is a graduate of the Faber Academy. She lives in London with her husband, two young children, and an antisocial cat. The Last Chance Library is her debut novel. For more information, check out her website, HERE.
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