Publication date: February 6, 2020
Cloverdale is known for its winding roads, undulating hills and colourful cottages, and more recently, its Library of Shared Things. Need a ladder, a hedge trimmer or a waffle-maker? You can borrow it from the Library of Shared Things.
Single dad Adam is doing a good job of raising his daughter, Zoe, whilst burying his past and moving forwards. When he agrees to run a mending workshop at the Library, new friendships start to blossom.
Jennifer is a volunteer at the Library. When her younger sister Isla moves back to Cloverdale after her mother dies, Jennifer finds herself wondering whether Isla is hiding something.
And when Adam’s daughter Zoe makes a startling discovery, it’s time for the people at the Library of Shared Things to pull together and help one family with its biggest challenge of all. (Synopsis from Goodreads)
Before I started reading The Little Village Library by Helen Rolfe, I had certain expectations of this book. I was expecting it to be a sweet, romantic story. I formed this judgement based on the cover alone; there is just something about the cover that gives off the impression of a cute, light-hearted, snuggle up by an open fire and drink a hot cocoa kind of book. By no means did I envisage a story of such strong substance as The Little Village Library. This, my friends, is why we we should not judge books by their covers (although I will likely continue to do so).
You would never guess from the cover that The Little Village Library actually deals with some very important topics, including domestic violence and mental health issues. These issues are dealt with in such a way that does not affect the reader’s enjoyment of the book or the reading experience. Generally when I read a book that discusses topics such as domestic violence, I am left with a heavy heart. I often need to read something a bit more light-hearted next in order to bring my spirits back up. However, Rolfe handles these topics in a way that is in keeping with the rest of the more light-hearted tone of the book, meaning that I was not left feeling melancholic by any means. I hope this does not sound as though Rolfe is dismissive of these topics, because that is not the case by any means. In fact, I think that it is really well done. The balance between seriousness and light-heartedness in The Little Village Library is spot on.
The heart of The Little Village Library is the characters. There is single-dad Adam, who has just moved to Cloverdale with his children Zoe and Zac, and is trying to fit in whilst holding on to a terrible secret. There is life-long Cloverdale resident Jennifer, who has just started a community project at the local library and dealing with troubles in both her career and marriage. Jennifer’s sister Isla, with whom she has a difficult relationship, has recently moved back to Cloverdale, following the death of both their parents. To top it all off, Jennifer’s estranged friend Violet is working with her on the project at the library. To an outsider, the village of Cloverdale and its residents may look idyllic, but things are not entirely as they seem. Secrets are rife in Cloverdale, and I did not want to put this book down until I uncovered the truth.
I fell in love with each and every one of the residents of Cloverdale as I got to know them. Sure, they could be frustrating at times, but who isn’t? I found myself wanting to have cheese and wine nights with Isla and Jennifer, hang out with Zoe and her best friend Ava, and attend some of the village’s quirky events. The village of Cloverdale reminded me of Star’s Hollow in a way. It is the perfect backdrop for some of the more serious aspects of the story. In the acknowledgments to The Little Village Library, Rolfe writes “I had some serious themes in this book and so needed a setting that would enable me to tell the story that leave readers uplifted.” I must say that Rolfe executed this perfectly.
The Little Village Library is a truly enjoyable read. It deals with some serious issues, whilst remaining heart-warming and sweet. My initial expectations weren’t entirely wrong. It actually does make quite a good snuggle up by an open fire and enjoy a hot cocoa book. I already can’t wait to see what the author does in the future.
I would like to sincerely thank NetGalley and Orion for my advance copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
Helen Rolfe is an English author of fiction and contemporary women’s fiction. Rolfe used to work in IT, and now writes full-time. She has written over 20 books to date.
The Little Village Library is a gem of a book. Rolfe has created characters that you will fall in love with in a setting that will make you want to pack up your belongings and find a village like Cloverdale. I sincerely hope that this book is turned into a series, because I would love to read more about these characters.
My rating: ★★★★★
Waterstones (UK): here
Amazon (US): here
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.