“The Library of Lost and Found” by Phaedra Patrick is a book about books, so I knew I would love it right from the start. It is also a story about Martha Storm. “If anyone asked about her job, she had an explanation ready. ‘ I’m a guardian of books,’ she said. “A volunteer at the library.’” She was also an organizer, guide, buyer, filer, job adviser, housekeeper, walking encyclopedia, and a recommender of somewhere nice to eat lunch. She lives in her childhood home; her parents both deceased. She spends a lot of time helping others rather than doing things for herself. This book is her story, her journey, her search, her enlightenment, and finally, her new life.
A brown paper parcel changes everything. Inside she finds a book, but not just any book. She turns the pages and words and titles leap out at her. It is full of stories that she wrote as a child. The biggest surprise is the message written inside the book, a message from Zelda, her grandmother, and dated three years after she died. Thus, Martha starts on a path that takes her to unexpected places where she makes startling discoveries about herself and her family. However, among the highs and happiness of discovering the book and its author, secrets and lies are lurking to turn her quiet life upside down. In alternating chapters, readers also get a glimpse of Martha as she grows up in 1974, and visit Betty Storm, Martha’s mom, and her household that emphasizes reading and writing.
An interesting cast of characters fills in the details of Martha’s life. Readers meet friends, library patrons, book club members, and booksellers. They love books, and readers love them because they do.
“’You should always make time for books,’ Owen said. ‘ Do you have a favorite?’ Martha knew her answer straight away. ‘It’s got to be Alice in Wonderland. I like Alice’s practicality and how she takes everything in her stride. She meets these odd creatures in magical situations and it never fazes her.’”
Martha hesitates on her journey, but she persists. “I have got to do this.” She is not always happy with what she finds. ‘”You’re a liar, Nana. For all these years’… ‘No. I just didn’t tell you the truth.’ ’It’s the bloody same thing,” Martha yelled.”
Eventually Martha finds that coffee and cake are always welcome along with Christmas and books. I received a review copy of “The Library of Lost and Found” from Phaedra Patrick, Harlequin Publishing, Park Row, and NetGalley. The novel combines family anguish with a mysterious book and its author. It is a tribute to books and the quirky people who love them.
In the end, “Read me. I’m yours.”