Books about libraries always hold a special place in our hearts, and Felicity Hayes-McCoy's The Library at the Edge of the World is no exception. The author's U.S. debut follows a local librarian who must find a way to rebuild her community and her own life in this touching, enchanting novel set on Ireland’s stunning West Coast. Check out the lovely letter below about how this book came to be and the beautiful Irish setting:
One day, while eating lemon-drizzle cake with my agent in the café at the Charles Dickens' Museum in London, I conceived the idea of an Irish librarian who gives up her career for love and, twenty-five years later, discovers that her marriage has been a sham. What would she do? Where could she go? What are the consequences of ditching your life and starting off again where you began?
Soon Hanna, her difficult teenage daughter and her monstrous mother had possessed me, but the turning-point for The Library at the Edge of The World was the creation of my fictional peninsula. It's the physical world that shapes Finfarran’s characters, and their shared social and cultural inheritance that unites them to fight for their identity. I myself knew the magic of life in rural Ireland: I was raised in Dublin, and now divide my time between London and my home in an Irish-(Gaelic) speaking community which, while utterly modern, is rooted in an inheritance of storytelling; and my love of the particular colors and patterns of Irish speech comes from a lifetime of listening in two languages.
I sketched the Peninsula on a paper napkin that day and thereafter the characters and the outline for a series of books came easily.
During one of her weekly trips in the Peninsula’s mobile library van Hanna realizes that “for millennia, written words had conveyed dreams, visions, and aspirations across oceans and mountains, and that, as she steered between puddles and potholes she was part of a process that stretched across distance and time, linking handwritten texts from Egypt and Mesopotamia with the plastic-covered novels, CDs, and celebrity cookbooks lined up in the back of her van.”
As a librarian, you too are part of this enchanting process. So I hope that, like Hanna, you’ll find a feeling of belonging in Finfarran. A sense of recognition. A desire to cross boundaries and embrace new colors, patterns and ideas. Most of all, I want you to enjoy the people and places you find there, and to keep coming back.
If libraries or reading have ever played an important part in your life (seems like a safe assumption if you're on the Library Love Fest website reading this) or if you want to live on the coast of Ireland, request the egalley now and dive right in.