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The Librarian

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  5,479 ratings  ·  722 reviews
A charmingly subversive novel about a library in 1950s England, by the acclaimed author of The Cleaner of Chartres

Sylvia Blackwell, a young woman in her twenties, moves to East Mole, a quaint market town in middle England, to start a new job as a children's librarian. But the apparently pleasant town is not all it seems. Sylvia falls in love with an older man - but it's he
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published April 26th 2018 by Viking
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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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Average rating 3.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,479 ratings  ·  722 reviews

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Strictly speaking, this is more of a 3,5 star read when all is said and done despite my loving the story and the setting. I mean a book about books and a children's library... simply irresistible.

There were parts where I would have given 5 stars without hesitation, but the end was spoiled for me.

The story was set at the end of the 1950s and I got totally immersed in it, with its small town, its bittersweet, though at the same time very humdrum storylines, the library and the characters: both t
Jo (The Book Geek)
The Librarian, by Salley Vickers. This is a book that boasts a plot centred around a library and a certain librarian called Sylvia Blackwell. With the odd book reference thrown in too, what's not to love? Well, most of it actually.

The plot was so tongue in cheek, it was almost unbearable. Everything that was going on was tedious, and sent me on a yawn binge. The characters were not developed to the standard that I would expect, and I didn't like any of them to care about their fates. The love st
Shirley Revill
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook which was set in the 1950's.
Easy to read but very hard to put down.
Imogen Kathleen
Aug 09, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Meh... Can someone recommend me some good historical fiction please?
I wasn't blown away, but it was a cute little story. Books about books are always at least a little bit fun to read. Saying that, the protagonist was the most boring character I have ever read about. Ick.
I really don't know how I feel about this one.
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
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
’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?
May 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
“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
Dale Harcombe
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Sylvia Blackwell, takes up a position as Children’s librarian in the market town of East Mole. The time is in 1958. The struggling library’s collection of books is in severe need of updating. Sylvia has visions of encouraging more library use and reading from the children of the town. Not everyone is happy with some of her ideas to encourage children into the library. Sylvia makes friends and manages to take under her wing a couple of the children and encourage them. One of these is Sam the boy ...more
Jun 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
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
Fiona MacDonald
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A charming story fom Salley Vickers.
Sylvia is brought in to East Mole to begin work as Children's Librarian for the small library in the late 1950s. For some time she adores her job, (despite a rather unpleasant manager who is having an affair with her work colleague), and finds great joy in recommending books to the children who come through the door. She becomes great friends with the children of her neighbours, who clearly absolutely adore her, and then falls head over heels in love with the
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 mat ...more
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
Clair Sharpe
24 year old Sylvia Blackwell arrives in the village of East Mole in 1958 in order to start work in their run down library as the children's librarian. She rents a cottage in the village and she is passionate about getting the children of East Mole reading.
Sylvia befriends several of the children including Sam, a bright son of one of her neighbours; Lizzie, the grandchild of her landlady whom Sylvia is tasked with getting through the 11+ exams and Marigold, the precocious child of the local GP.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
"People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned."
---Saul Bellow

Screen Shot 2020-02-22 at 7.52.28 AM

I went to Paris, and I visited the Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore there. I met Penelope, the shop owner, and had a lovely chat with her.

"I'm a retired children's librarian," I told her.

"I have just the book for you," she said, and she brought me The Librarian by Salley Vickers.

Of course I had to buy it, and read it, and I tell you now that it was a perfect recommendation.

The Librarian is the story of Sylvia Blac
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 the book, but f
Hadas Tsury
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific book! Well written and heartwarming.
May 22, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For my full review, visit me at

Despite this being my third read by Vickers; despite seeing this released last year and having high expectations, I have been greatly disappointed in my experience of a book that I thought would appeal to my bookish character.

For my full review, visit me at
Jul 30, 2021 rated it liked it
1950's rural England - 25-year old woman moves away from her uninspiring parents to take on job of children's librarian; she forms attachment to married doctor with precocious, spoiled daughter; her immediate neighbors have children she bonds with and contributes to their educational development; portraits of these children appear later in the book as adults. That's it in nutshell.
What I liked was the rapport between librarian and the kids of the town.
There was a lot to not like, however. I woul
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
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hugely disappointing.....I’ve read several of this author’s books, and they range from being all time favourites, to being awful......

I thought this one sounded so very promising.....a young, enthusiastic librarian, who is passionate about encouraging children to read....
I was wrong....instead it was one of those frustrating scenarios, where she comes up against all the usual barriers to progress.....awful, selfish, stuck in the mud people, silly rules, etc. and she herself eventually acts so ou
Feb 19, 2018 rated it liked it
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
Moray Teale
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
H.A. Leuschel
A very pleasant read - especially if you are a bookworm of course - set in 1958, where 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 East Mole. She quickly makes friends but also has to face the critical, nasty tongues plotting behind her back.
Light and enjoyable!
Clare Rhoden
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have no words, like I literally thought it is not gonna be this great of a book... So i literally can just freaking rate it with a 5/5 and tell you that whatever you like to read, you will like this book cause it’s not as other write, it is just something delightful and fantastic. Go read it please, it’s a great cosy novel that will make you truly happy..🌻
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
More like 31/2 stars. I just loved this book ... until this second part which felt to me totally contrived and not adding anything to the book. But the first part kept me reading and not wanting to put down the book.
Lydia Bailey
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
An enjoyable, gentle little read with lots of interesting literary references. I would certainly have preferred it to end with Part One as Part Two seemed forced & unnatural in comparison & if we were to catch up with anyone I’m sure, like me, most readers would have preferred it to be the narrator. I think it’s one which would be really enjoyable (more enjoyable perhaps) listened to as an audio. A good light read but not one to set the world on fire.
Laura Spira
Nov 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
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
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Wirral Libraries ...: The Librarian 3 22 Aug 06, 2020 06:36AM  

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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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