Delphine works at a publisher’s in Paris and is always on the lookout for the next literary genius that she can discover. When she met her boyfriend, Frédéric, through his book ‘The Bathtub’ (which never got the critical acclaim or amassed the same love she had for the book with the public), they take a trip back to visit her parents in Brittany.
Here, in the town of Crozon, is a mysterious library that Delphine is curious to visit. It isn’t like any other library, with published works and known authors on its shelves: it is a library for unpublished manuscripts. Would-be authors have to come in person to hand over their tome, but beyond this there are no rules. Whatever you write is entered to the shelves.
Here, Delphine discovers ‘The Last Hours of a Love Affair’ written by Henri Pick, who is the deceased pizzeria owner of the town. His wife is shocked he has written a book and only when she reads it she believes it was written by him.
But as the book becomes bigger, and the town and chef’s wife gain more publicity, more mysteries of Henri’s life are unveiled.
This was one of the books where you feel as though you can’t put the book down, but also want to savour each page! The initial premise of the book, a library where unpublished manuscripts can be shelved, is such an intriguing idea. I can imagine wandering the aisles, picking up what each writer believes to be their own masterpiece; almost as though a piece of their souls is on the shelf.
Henri Pick provides us with mystery throughout the book. A simple pizzeria owner from a small town in Brittany, how did he manage to write such a novel inspired by a Russian poet, Pushkin, woven with such feeling and insight. And, more curiously, without his wife ever having known he’d written it. Why would he not want his work to be known?
Throughout the book we gain a human look at relationships: not just how they are formed and developed, but how they can twist and end. I found this the most interesting aspect of the book – it felt really honest and open.
The mystery itself was full of turns which came to an ending which felt satisfying yet provided an exciting story for the reader. Although centring on Henri, the tendrils of his story touched so many lives, including the reader, and created different directions within the story to create interest without it being too complex.
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