Audiobook Review: The Last Chance Library

Published August 31st 2021

Author: Freya Sampson

Narrator: Nathalie Pownall

Audiobook Length: 10 hours 36 minutes

June Jones emerges from her shell to fight for her beloved local library, and through the efforts and support of an eclectic group of library patrons, she discovers life-changing friendships along the way.

Lonely librarian June Jones has never left the sleepy English village where she grew up. Shy and reclusive, the thirty-year-old would rather spend her time buried in books than venture out into the world. But when her library is threatened with closure, June is forced to emerge from behind the shelves to save the heart of her community and the place that holds the dearest memories of her mother.

Joining a band of eccentric yet dedicated locals in a campaign to keep the library, June opens herself up to other people for the first time since her mother died. It just so happens that her old school friend Alex Chen is back in town and willing to lend a helping hand. The kindhearted lawyer’s feelings for her are obvious to everyone but June, who won’t believe that anyone could ever care for her in that way.

To save the place and the books that mean so much to her, June must finally make some changes to her life. For once, she’s determined not to go down without a fight. And maybe, in fighting for her cherished library, June can save herself, too.

The Last Chance Library follows 28-years-old library assistant June. After her mom, a beloved librarian passed away eight years ago, June finds herself in a rut. As she is shy and unsure about herself, she worries about stepping into her mother’s shoes at Chalcot Library. While she enjoys learning about the local regulars, she is insecure about getting to know them as she has lower self-esteem. When the local council announces the future closure of six libraries for budgetary purposes, June must find a way to step outside of her comfort zone to save the place she loves.

The ragtag group that forms Friends of Chalcot Library form a campaign, but June has a difficult time jumping in to help. This is not only due to her insecurities, but she worries about losing her job or any possibility of a future one. The group is made up primarily of Stanley, a pensioner and frequent visitor of the library, Mrs. B, who visits the library in search of her perfect read, and Chantal, a student who studies at the library. There is a possible love interest in June’s childhood friend, Alex. While the romance was cute, it was a little difficult to fully connect to it, as it was minimal in the story. The focus of the story is on the friendships and community feel from those that all love the library.

This was a character-driven story filled with a love of books. I love that libraries were explored, as they are more than just places for books. They are a place for rest/relaxation, a place to study, a gathering place, among many other purposes. While June was frustrating at times as she had a lot of support around her that she did not always acknowledge, I loved her journey. While it has been years since her mother passed away, she never fully dealt with the initial grief and I loved how she explored this part of herself.

Overall, this was a heartwarming and light-hearted novel about books and community. I love how the people come together to save the library as it is a part of their village. There is also a nice theme surrounding June as she believes she does not have support around her and how her inner self affected how she lived her life. Through her love of the library, she begins to see the world around her a little more clearly and I greatly enjoyed this journey. This was a great introduction to this author and I look forward to trying out more in the future.

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