Review: The Library of Unrequited Love – Sophie Divry

Cover of The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry

Title: The Library of Unrequited Love
Author: Sophie Divry
Publication date: February 14, 2013
Publisher: Maclehose Press (Quercus)
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-85705-141-7
Length: 91 pages
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository


One morning a librarian finds a reader who has been locked in overnight. She begins to talk to him, a one-way conversation full of sharp insight and quiet outrage.

As she rails against snobbish senior colleagues, an ungrateful and ignorant public, the strictures of the Dewey Decimal System and the sinister expansionist conspiracies of the books themselves, two things shine through: her unrequited passion for a researcher named Martin, and an ardent and absolute love for the arts.

A delightful divertissement for the discerning bookworm…

My thoughts

Sophie Divry’s The Library of Unrequited Love is very a short story you can easily devour, from cover to cover, in one sitting. I’ll be totally honest here: it’s been a while since I finished reading it and I still don’t know what to make of this book. What I know for certain is that it’s unlike anything I’ve read before.

Firstly, the book doesn’t have any chapters or any kind of divisions at all. None. Nada. I know it’s a short book but if you don’t have enough time to read it in one sitting and you also happen to have a weird habit of reading to the end of a chapter before setting your book aside (like me), it might make you feel a bit uneasy. Another thing that was completely new for me is narration. It’s basically a one-way conversation between the librarian and a reader who has been locked in the library’s basement overnight.  We know nothing about the reader – not even his or her name or whether s/he’s a man or a woman. Everything we know comes from the librarian’s monologue, which is definitely one of the things that make this book unique and unlike any other. But again, I still wasn’t a hundred percent sure what to make of it. I love how we gradually get to know our narrator and what type of person she is and I found myself smirking (or occasionally nodding) at some of her remarks. Perhaps one of the things I loved the most about this book is how the narrator talks about reading and how she describes what it means to her. She says, “I prefer the company of books. When I’m reading, I’m never alone, I have a conversation with the book. It can be very intimate. Perhaps you know this feeling yourself? […] When I’m reading, I can forget everything, sometimes I don’t even hear the phone.” And I’m sure it’s something all of us bookworms can agree with, something we all go through on a daily basis. At the same time, I would’ve liked to know a bit more about the reader and see what s/he makes of all this or how s/he reacts to some of our librarian’s observations.

If you like short stories and the lack of chapters don’t bother you, I would say go for it and give it a try. It might not have been my favourite book of the month but it was an interesting read all the same and I know for a fact that book lovers will find many of its aspects easily relatable.


“Wake up! What are you doing lying there?
The library doesn’t open for another two hours, you shouldn’t be here at all. If it isn’t the limit! Now they’ve started locking readers into my basement. Honestly, there’s no end to what I have to put up with. No, no point shouting, it’s not
my fault. But I know who you are, you know your way round the library. You mooch about this place all day, so sooner or later you were bound to end up staying the night here.

3 star rating
*Many thanks to Quercus for sending me a copy of this book*


  1. says

    Interesting that you weren’t sure what to make of this book. It is a very brave writer that breaks the mould and writes a book in this way and a very convinced publisher to believe in it. Sounds like something I might like to read so thanks for the review! I wonder if you’ve read The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. Different subject and told in the second person throughout (unlike The Library…) but the same sort of one sided narration that reveals the story in slow but deliberate chunks.
    Like the Reluctant Fundamentalist, perhaps this is one worth reading again to see how you feel next time round.
    Fran recently posted..DoubtMy Profile

    • says

      I haven’t but I’ll make sure to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation! I might have to pick this one up sometime in the future – I didn’t dislike it and as I said, I could relate to quite a few things the narrator mentioned. It’s just that there was something about it that I wasn’t particularly keen on – and I still can’t really put my finger on what it was. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I don’t normally read short stories or the one-sided narration (or both). But it’s definitely a unique book. :)

      Some of the reviews (e.g. Megan’s) I’ve read so far were really good and lots of people seem to loved this story so it might be just me…

  2. says

    Sounds like a really unique and interesting book, but I know what you mean – sometimes authors do something really different and you can admire what they were going for, but at the same time it just doesn’t work for you somehow. I had that with Rule 34, a kind of low-scifi crime novel, which is told entirely in second person and switches between a few different characters. There was an interesting reason for doing it like that, but in the end it was just too jarring for me.

    Might give this one a try if I see it at the library though, since it’s short, and does sound intriguing! :-)
    Vicky H recently posted..Top Ten Characters in FantasyMy Profile

    • says

      Exactly! I actually really liked the fact that she came up with something new and different – I’m just not sure it worked for me. It’s kind of a subjective thing, I suppose, because I know some other bloggers who loved it. :)

      But yeah, it’s only 91 pages and a v. quick read so it’s definitely worth a try! x

  3. says

    OK, first the title caught my eye. Then, the book cover (it’s very cute!). & now you’ve pulled me in with the synopsis and your review. This sounds fascinating, and while I don’t normally read short stories, I think I’m going to try this one. I’m feeling up for something “experimental”.

    Thanks Vicky!

    P.S: Running on only a few hours of sleep today and when I clicked over your GIF scared me! LOL I honestly jumped and was like “ahh, someone is looking at me”, hehe 😉 But then I realized it was your beautiful face. Hope you are doing well hun!
    Rachelia (Bookish Comforts) recently posted..Review & Giveaway: The Madness Underneath by Maureen JohnsonMy Profile

    • says

      Ha, it’s lovely, isn’t it? 😀 I love the cover (who wouldn’t like to see so many books… on a book?) too.

      I don’t normally read short stories either – which might be one of the reasons why I didn’t enjoy it as much as some other people – but it has such a unique narrative that I still think it’s worth a read.

      ROAR! Am I that scary? 😀 But thank you <3 I’m all right, currently working on my uni thesis and running around like a headless chicken most of the time. BUT *holds up her index finger* I’m going back to LondonLand in April and I’m hopefully meeting up with Celine, Ellie and Faye! So that definitely put a smile on my face this week. I wish you were still in the UK :(

  4. says

    I’m interested in this one, the way of the narration kind of intrigues me. But it gets to me that there are no chapter breaks throughout. I am like you, I need to read to the end of the chapter (or to a break) before I set the book down. The cover and title of this are totally the first things that drew my attention to it. LOL. I may get it from the library to see what I think…
    Andrea @Cozy Up With A Good Read recently posted..Review: Emblaze by Jessica ShrivingtonMy Profile

    • says

      I know, I’m definitely one of those people who need to get to the end of a chapter before setting a book aside. It’s not a long one at all so I know it shouldn’t have bothered me so much but the lack of breaks AND the fact that the whole story is a one-sided conversation meant that it became a bit too intense for me. It was like listening to a monologue for 3 hours straight without any breaks or interruptions. But it’s only 91 pages and it really is unlike anything I’ve ever read so it might be worth a read. :)

  5. says

    Now a short story with unusual formatting is something I can certainly appreciate, frustrating as it may be. And the topic is brilliant, one that I think will touch the hearts of all us book lovers out there! What I’d really like to know is, does the person locked in the library ever speak back to the librarian? Or is the entire story just her monologue?
    Nikki @ Foil the Plot recently posted..Book Review: Carnival of Souls by Melissa MarrMy Profile

    • says

      No, s/he doesn’t :( So the entire story is just a monologue basically – which is probably one of the main reasons why I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

    • says

      It was quite odd indeed. The lack of chapters might not bother you, though – it can’t be that annoying if you’re a fast reader and you can read it in one sitting. My main problem was that I didn’t have much time so I had to put it aside quite often. :(

  6. says

    This sounds kind of interesting, but the lack of chapters would drive me mad too! I don’t like finishing in the middle of a chapter, I much prefer there to be a definite structure. It’s nice that it explores someone’s love of reading, though, and their relationship with books. Great review Vicky!
    kit recently posted..Review: Goodbye to Berlin, Christopher IsherwoodMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks, Lauren :) And not necessarily – if you’re fast enough and you can read it in one go (it’s only 91 pages, after all) without having to put the book down, it might not be that annoying. I don’t know. It did annoy me and put me off quite a bit but I know several people who loved this book – so who knows? It might be just me…

  7. says

    Sounds like you didn’t quite enjoy it as much as you wanted to. I’m not into the murder thriller genre myself, but this one did look kind of interesting. Hopefully your next read will be a bit better :)
    Felicia recently posted..Top 5 Monday RantsMy Profile

  8. says

    Hey there! I just finished reading this book and I agree with you in many ways. I also found myself smiling a bit in when she talked about her experience with books and reading. I think it would be good to see some more interaction between her and the person she talks too. Sometimes she seems to reply something he/she said but I’d like to see more of that too.
    Nevertheless, I think it’s a nice reading for bookworms to identify and you can read it in a few hours just to pass the time. :)

    Great review, by the way!


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