I’m delighted today to share my publication day review of The Little Library on Cherry Lane, the latest book from Katie Ginger. Published today as an e-book on all major platforms by HQ Digital, the paperback and audiobook will follow on 12th May. My thanks to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy, provided via netgalley.
How lovely to be reading another book from Katie – I was so sad I just couldn’t fit in a review of her Christmas release, The Perfect Christmas Gift (in fact, I might just have a Christmas in July week so I can catch up with the books I didn’t manage to read!). Katie’s first appearance here on Being Anne was as part of the blog tour for Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay back in June 2020 – a lovely guest post about writing the book, that you can read again here. And then I discovered how much I enjoyed her writing, reviewing Winter Wishes at Swallowtail Bay in the October – heartwarming, uplifting, emotional, full of lovely comedy moments, a wonderfully drawn location, and a great story with characters I really loved (you can read the full review again here). And I’ve been to Meadowbank before too (and rather liked it there) – I read and really enjoyed The Secrets of Meadow Farmhouse in March last year, with its wonderful cast of characters, an excellent past and present story, and a lovely focus on home and belonging (you’ll find my full review here). So, let’s go and meet Elsie, and find out what’s going on there…
Elsie Martin may lead a quiet life, but working in her beloved local library is enough to make her happy. After all, books have always been her armour against the world. So when the library is threatened with closure to make way for a new housing development, Elsie knows it has to be saved – and that, despite being painfully shy, she needs to lead the campaign to save it.
Jacob Yardley thinks he’s doing the right thing by building a new affordable housing development. Why shouldn’t local people be able to buy a house in the place they grew up? Having to leave his own small hometown broke his heart. Plus, people don’t really use libraries anymore, do they?
As Elsie and Jacob clash over the future of the library, sparks begin to fly. Jacob is falling back in love with books and libraries – could he possibly be falling for her too? And will Elsie be able to save the library that means so much to her?
Elsie is never happier than when she’s surrounded by books – and we can all identify with that, can’t we? – and her job at Meadowbank library is all she ever wanted. And she’s not only handling books all day, but also thrilled to be helping provide a whole range of services (organised groups, and her own special little touches) that make it a wonderful and much-needed hub for the community. Other than her close friends and the individuals she helps or deals with at the library, people can be a bit more of a problem – she’s painfully shy, struggling for words and turning bright pink whenever she’s the centre of attention, and she’d far prefer to be allowed to melt into the background.
But when she hears that the library is to be closed and demolished to make room for a development of affordable housing, she knows she has something worth fighting for. When she first encounters Jacob he’s the first man in a very long time who’s made her heart beat a little faster – until she finds that he’s the developer’s son, there to carry out his father’s instructions, and instead becomes her mortal enemy. He’d prefer it if he wasn’t in that position too – he loves books and poetry, instantly takes a liking to Meadowbank (and to Elsie), he’d far prefer to be in a gentler job with a charity, but instead finds himself the bad guy as the community unites behind a far braver-than-expected Elsie to save the library.
This was such a lovely story, and I really took both main characters to my heart. There’s poor Jacob, bullied quite dreadfully by his father, finding himself championing a cause he doesn’t entirely believe in – and the quite magnificent Elsie, an unstoppable force, like Boudicea directing her army. But the book is far more than just its two main characters – there’s a few real baddies from the council and the developers, some particularly well-drawn individuals who would be as lost as Elsie without their beloved library, and a whole wider community who find themselves unexpectedly at odds over whether affordable housing is something Meadowbank really needs.
The friendships threaded into the story are beautifully handled, as is the unlikely (but perfectly lovely… so special!) romance – but so is the drama, and there’s plenty of that before the story reaches its really heartwarming and uplifting conclusion. The author is a wonderful story-teller – and with this one, she’s really come up with a great story that is tremendously engaging, with an emotional edge that was everything I wanted it to be.
This might not be the only book I’ve read recently focusing on the key role libraries have in the community, but it certainly didn’t mean I enjoyed it any less – the characters and the way they develop are simply wonderful, the setting vividly drawn, and there were times when I got as hot under the collar as Elsie did about every new injustice – and my heart was most definitely in my mouth before there was any possibility of a happy ending. A really lovely read – and one I’d most definitely recommend to others.
About the author
Katie Ginger lives by the sea in the south-east of England, and apart from holidays to very hot places where you can sit by a pool and drink cocktails as big as your head, she wouldn’t really want to be anywhere else. The Little Library on Cherry Lane is her ninth novel, and her third set in Meadowbank. She is also the author of the Swallowtail Bay series – Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay, Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bayand Winter Wishes at Swallowtail Bay; Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage; and the Seafront series – The Little Theatre on the Seafront, shortlisted for the Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year award, and Summer Season on the Seafront.
When she’s not writing, Katie spends her time with her husband and two kids, and their dogs: Wotsit, the King Charles spaniel, and Skips, the three-legged Romanian rescue dog. (And yes, they are both named after crisps!)