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The Librarian

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  1,074 ratings  ·  179 reviews
'Vickers sees with a clear eye and writes with a light hand; she's a presence worth cherishing in the ranks of modern novelists.' Philip Pullman

In 1958, Sylvia Blackwell, fresh from one of the new post-war Library Schools, takes up a job as children's librarian in a run down library in the market town of East Mole.

Her mission is to fire the enthusiasm of the children of Ea
Published November 1st 2018 by Penguin (first published April 26th 2018)
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Anne Mortimer Yes to all those, i couldn't believe it was from the pen of SV. I did wonder if she'd originally written it as a sort of teenage novel, then went back…moreYes to all those, i couldn't believe it was from the pen of SV. I did wonder if she'd originally written it as a sort of teenage novel, then went back and changed a few bits. Really poor.(less)
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Shirley Revill
I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook which was set in the 1950's.
Easy to read but very hard to put down.
Gumble's Yard
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
’It’s not “weird”, Alex. There was a move to close the Children’s Library and Granny was all mixed up with it somehow. Now it’s threatened with closure again so she’s agreed to speak at an event which they hope might help to keep the library open.’ ‘I don’t see why we need libraries,’ Alex said. ‘You can get anything you want off the internet.’ His sister, who was of an age to enjoy going against a popular tide, sighed audibly and their mother said, ‘Yes, but how do you know what to look for? T
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
3.5 stars
The Librarian, written by Salley Vickers, is a dream novel if you are a booklover. It is of course set predominately in a library and follows the journey of Sylvia Blackwell, a young woman who takes up the position of a Children’s Librarian in a declining library. The story that gently unfolds is one of friendship, love, aspirations and the power of books.

In the year 1958, a twenty five year old woman, Sylvia Blackwell, leaves her life in Swindon f
May 23, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
“Who is Sylvia? What is she…?”

[Some spoilers.]

It is 1958 and 25-year old Sylvia arrives in East Mole to take up the post of Children’s Librarian. Keen to share her love of children’s literature with the local youngsters, Sylvia hopes to transform the dowdy, unloved section of the library into a welcoming hub for the children of this parochial village. But as we know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And when she meets handsome Dr Hugh Bell – also newly arrived in East Mole and wit
Jonathan Pool
Not my cup of tea at all.
I read The Librarian because it was chosen by my local Waterstones book club. Waterstones UK chose it as their November book of the month and consequently it had achieved decent sales, and a wide readership.
Damning with faint praise
My local group were divided on the books merits and there were some who enjoyed it. Trying to be charitable I respect and appreciate the reading of any book, as distinct from none at all.

There are numerous things I didn’t like about Salley Vic
I read the first 48 pages out of 385. The vintage cover design is adorable, and probably drew me in against my better judgment. An idealistic young woman takes up the post of Children’s Librarian in a small town populated by good-hearted busybodies and urchins. On the twee side of pleasant. Promises to be a predictable love story. An excuse for the author to list off her favorite books from childhood? (Read Lucy Mangan’s Bookworm instead!) There’s the odd jarring line that doesn’t at all match ...more
Jun 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
From BBC Radio 4 - Book at Bedtime:
Episode 1 of 10
In Salley Vickers' lyrical tribute to the power of children's literature, enthusiastic new librarian Sylvia Blackwell shakes up the tight-knit community of East Mole.

Episode 2 of 10
Sylvia launches her plan to encourage more local children into the library - but not everyone in East Mole shares her enthusiasm.

Episode 3 of 10
Sylvia Blackwell is delighted to find an ally in her mission to encourage the local children into the library. She receives a
Jun 06, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I could hardly believe I was reading a book by Salley Vickers, an author whose novels I have always enjoyed, and who seems to me to write interestingly and with a sure hand. This novel, however, I found almost unreadable. Anachronistic language and attitudes, stilted conversation, stock characters, plus some didacticism added to the mix when Vickers feels impelled to interject her views on such matters as the importance of libraries or the 11+ and grammar schools. The plot concerns a young woman ...more
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
DNF BOOK! Whilst I was obviously interested in a book called ‘The Librarian’ as I am a librarian myself, & have read other books by Salley Vickers, I just thought this book was too twee!

It didn’t capture what librarians are really like, what it’s like working in a public library, or what it’s like working with outside partners, such as doctors & primary schools which are highlighted in the book. I think if you love books & libraries & are not a librarian, you will probably enjoy
Feb 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
A difficult book to review, especially since I came to it with high expectations. The first half is devoted to setting the scene - rural middle England in 1958. The innocent 24-year-old Sylvia arrives to take up a post as Children’s Librarian and settle into small-town life after a city upbringing. The author creates a lovely sense of time and place. Sylvia is entranced by the natural world around her and by some of the people, young and adult, she comes to know during one year. The story reads ...more
Clare Rhoden
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was enchanted by this novel, especially its evocation of 1950s England. I was impressed with Vickers' light touch as she navigated the misogynist, racist, religion-ist, class-ist mainstream world full of small-minded characters ready to judge and pronounce doom on others. While I found Sylvia, our protagonist, to be quite naive and not especially well-educated as a librarian, it was good for me to meet her - I had to get over my own expectations of what a librarian "should" know, "should" be, ...more
May 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was difficult to review. I’ve read several of this author’s books and consider myself a fan but I struggled with this one. I almost put it down several times which is why I couldn’t give it four stars. It does pick up about halfway in but then finishes with a strange and seemingly superfluous Part 2. There were a number of characters I found unappealing. In general, I found myself not caring about any of them which usually causes me to abandon a book.

However, the writing is beautiful and ca
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
The best! This is a thoroughly charming read. Just loved the 1950’s English village setting and love of books, reading and the local library.
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first time I've read Sally Vickers and I must say I really enjoyed it. On the surface this is a novel set in 1950's Britain about a young woman who becomes a Children's Librarian, she moves to a small town, gets involved with a married man and more importantly becomes involved in the lives of her neighbours. However, this novel is really about the love of books, the importance of reading, the importance of libraries (and how the Tory Government has destroyed this socially important i ...more
This is my intro to Sally Vickers and all in all it's a welcome one. I enjoyed the rather direct style of writing and she set the 1950's scene well. I liked the rather scandalous twist in personal circumstances too as I didn't much expect it. There is a fair bit of social commentary across both parts of the book, particularly on issues of social mobility and social attitudes. It would be interesting in terms of discussions around how far if at all, these attitudes have changed today.

I did tend
Tina Price
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sally Vickers is a firm favourite and this is a lovely novel, very easy to read as a result of highly skilled writing and a light touch with the plot, which flows along without hitch. There is an excellent sense of time, those early, Post War years, where expectations were still fairly low and people seemed to be expected to know their position in life and stick to it.

The very important role of the new Grammar schools is highlighted and their role in social change particularly emphasised in the
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read.
Linnea Lo
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m a parody of myself at this point. This was predictably enormously up my street.
Laura Spira
Nov 28, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is so awful that I found myself checking the author a couple of times to see if it really was written by Salley Vickers. Her first books were so very enjoyable, especially Miss Garnet's Angel, that I couldn't believe that she could produce something like this. I fully endorse her passionate wish to preserve libraries, especially for children, but novels aren't always the best vehicle for polemics and this book does little to advance the cause.

The story centres on Sylvia, a children's l
Beth Bonini
Edward Bettison designed this charming book cover - and unfortunately, the book cover is the most appealing aspect of the book. Although though I have (with much hesitation) given this book three stars, it was definitely just “okay” - and I don’t know if it’s Christmas charity or the subject matter which swayed me to be generous with my rating. The book was slightly redeemed by an unexpected and interesting ending, but only slightly. I definitely wanted to abandon it about halfway through.

The pr
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sylvia Blackwell is a young woman in 1950s England who moves to the small town of East Mole to take up the role of Children's Librarian. Her arrival and actions have repercussions on the villagers, both good and bad. This was a lovely little story and shows the impact that libraries and trained library staff have and why they shouldn't be lost to society.
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
A truly evocative tale of the 1950’s! Beautifully written..... I’ve just finished reading and feel all warm and fuzzy. Vickers captures the era, the community, the spirit and the innocence perfectly!
Moray Teale
A rather average tale of small-town, rural life in the 1950s. It’s a pleasant enough read but neither the characters nor the writing offered anything fresh or new, even the centrality of the library couldn’t save it and the repeated references to I Capture the Castle left me wondering if the author was aiming for her own version of this classic but she failed to re-create the humour and charm by rather a wide margin. I honestly can’t pinpoint a single thing about it that could be classed as “sub ...more
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up immediately after finishing The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald, and this has proven to be fortuitous. Similar in style and substance, it almost feels like a continuation of sorts. Addressing similar themes - books, readers vs non-readers, small town politics, social and class divides and single womanhood among others - they fit together quite nicely. It was also my first reading of both authors and I am very glad to say they are both on their way to becoming firm favourites - o ...more
Sonia Bellhouse
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title appealed to me, I tend to enjoy books about books and reading and this was no exception. It began almost like a children's story as Sylvia Blackwell sets out to make a success of her new job as Children's librarian in fictional East Mole, Wiltshire, Young and idealistic she want to inspire a love of reading while escaping the confines of her own life.
The era (1958) is well conveyed, with its social niceties and class consciousness. At first, her attempts to encourage children into the
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the 1950s, a young librarian, Sylvia Blackwell, comes to run the children’s library in the small town of East Mole. Her arrival and relationships with several local children open their minds to literature but also cause serious unforeseen consequences. Sylvia also falls for the local doctor, a married man, a move bound to cause scandal.
Sylvia is keen to make books accessible and interesting to all children but faces resistance from her manager and, as the story progresses, certain element
Eleanor Slater
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-bookcase
A thoroughly enjoyable read! Full of references to books I remember loving as a child and the feeling that a good Children's Library can be so very important to some of us (I remember being in mine as often as possible and our librarians, Kim, Eileen and Rodger seeming more important to me than most family members). There were a few disturbing characters mixed in with the lovable readers (both reluctant and unstoppable) which stopped the book from being overly sentimental as they brought out the ...more
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sweet, quick novel about the magic of libraries and reading. The second part of the novel was perhaps unnecessary but I did get a kick out of Perth’s Lane Bookshop getting a mention.
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Librarian is Sylvia and the impact of the woman, the place and the books on a small community and vice versa, are the focus of the novel. Love, jealousy, violence, hatred, anger, failure - you name it, the world of books can lead to it. It's bittersweet and infuriating, as well as uplifting and hopeful. A worthy addition to Salley Vickers novels.
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book feels authentic, and is based on a love of libraries and the Children's librarian from Vickers past - highlights what we are losing with libraries closing in these austerity times. It is an enjoyable book, full of nostalgia and a deep look at local politics, social mores and what kids were reading in 1958. I raced through it.
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Salley Vickers was born in Liverpool, the home of her mother, and grew up as the child of parents in the British Communist Party. She won a state scholarship to St Paul’s Girl’s School and went on to read English at Newnham College Cambridge.

She has worked, variously, as a cleaner, a dancer, an artist’s model, a teacher of children with special needs, a university teacher of literature, and a psy
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