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Unlikely Protagonist Becomes Hero of Her Own Story
I am always drawn to a book about books! The cherry on top of that for this book is that the middle-aged main character works at her local library as well. The author does a brilliant job at the beginning of the book showing, not telling, of Martha’s fussy and pedantic yet selflessly giving nature. Martha lives on her own but fills her time doing thankless tasks for family and neighbors, like fixing her nephew’s trousers and repairing a paper mache dragon. Her insular world is broken apart when she receives a book left at the library’s door that was inscribed by her beloved grandmother who died when Martha was young. This opens up a whole new world for Martha as she tries to puzzle out the mystery of how her grandmother could have inscribed a note to her in the book months after the elder lady supposedly died.
This is the first time that I have read this author, and I was delighted by her in-depth characterization in this book. Martha at the beginning could very well have been a pitiable martyr, but the author managed to make her real in such a way that didn’t allow for such a simple take. The book does meander a bit, but I have found that to be quite often the case for certain British writers that I’ve read (and enjoyed, like the delightful cozy mystery writer V. S. Vale). While some may find this annoying, this author pursues this path deftly, in part because of the very excellent characterization of not only Martha but the secondary characters she meets along her path but also because of the depth of the backstory and its secrets that are slowly revealed. I quite enjoyed Martha’s transformation over the course of this book. A wonderful read.