Book Review | The Littlest Library (ARC)

I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.

In The Littlest Library, librarian Jess has just been laid off and has lost her grandmother, the closest and only family member she has left. Adrift, she decides to turn over a new leaf and buys a cottage in a small town in the countryside. Once she arrives, she learns that a rundown public phone box comes with the property, and so she decides to repurpose the structure into a tiny library, filled with her grandmother’s books. And the longer she spends in her new village, meeting new people through the library and getting to know the local drama, the more she wonders if she’s kept herself too sheltered. But she’s unsure if she can bring herself to take a leap of faith and truly seek connection, even love, in this new place.

This was a cute book!

Granted, it’s not at all heavy on the plot. It’s very slice-of-life, but for an entire novel, following Jess’ existence in this village and seeing her interactions with the others who live there. Any conflict that occurs in the story isn’t really a huge deal, though I suppose there is an overarching story that does involve a conflict of sorts. Everything is very low stakes, though. Really, this reads like pure, self-indulgent escapism, but I don’t mean that as a criticism.

The setting of this story is probably my favorite part. This town is so idyllic and picturesque, and I want to live in Jess’ cottage. It’s a simple, peaceful, small existence, founded on mutual respect, even when there is disagreement. The world would benefit from being more like this, I think.

As for the characters, I liked them all well enough. Jess, Diana, and Becky were lovely, and I enjoyed watching their individual journeys. I especially liked Maisie, the sweet tween neighbor of Jess, and I kind of wish we had spent more time with her. I think, really, that there might have been too many side characters and not quite enough time to devote to all of them. A few times, I got confused as to who was who.

Further, I wasn’t terribly invested in the romance between Jess and Aidan. Again, I think this is due to there being too many mini-plots and side characters, because I didn’t feel as if I really got to know Aidan. My general impression of him was favorable, but I never got a solid grasp on who he is, nor did I get much out of his and Jess’ mutual attraction. But still, it was cute enough.

(Side note—not to negate the entire premise of this story—does the UK not have Little Free Libraries? All of the characters act as if the phone box library is the most novel idea in the world, but to me, it’s fairly commonplace to have mini libraries like it.)

In the end, The Littlest Library is not the most incredible story I’ve ever read, but it was still a fun, fluffy read. There are some decent moments of emotions, but never felt too deeply. Everything about this feels like pure fantasy, but with such an enticing atmosphere, it’s hard to really resent that. It’s not a novel that breaks any new ground, but it’s still entertaining.

The Littlest Library is available now!

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