A librarian’s discovery of a mysterious book sparks the journey of a lifetime in the delightful new novel from the international bestselling author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people—though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her superhero-themed notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.
All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend—her grandmother Zelda—who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.
Filled with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and vivid characters, The Library of Lost and Found is a heartwarming and poignant tale of how one woman must take control of her destiny to write her own happy ending.
Hardcover: 352 Pages
Publisher: Park Row; Original edition (March 26, 2019)
I have had the author's first book, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, on my TBR list for age,s so it was more the premise of this story about a mysterious little book of fairy tales coming into an isolated librarian's life that caused me to jump on this tour.
Martha Storm hasn't had an easy life and now in her forties, rightly feels like much of it has passed her by, caring for her aging parents until their passings and being quite a doormat, almost compulsively helping her neighbors, townspeople and library patrons with their tasks and lives. but not getting anything other than more requests in return. Martha was an outsider in her family from a young age, with a controlling father who markedly preferred her younger sister, and a mother who acquiesced to her father's rules and demands. Her eccentric and vibrant 'nana' and the sharing of books and writing stories are the bright spots in Martha's life until she disappears and her parents tell her Zelda has passed away. It's a tiny battered book of the fairy tales she and Zelda told each other and it was published after Zelda's death. The book sets Martha on a journey to learn Zelda's secrets and discover what happened all the those years ago and it's a journey that teaches her about herself.
Watching Martha change and grow and begin to find her spark and stop living for others was my favorite part of the book. The fairy tales mixed into the story are wonderful too, although bordering on the melancholy at times, they illustrate what Martha, her mother, and her nana were going through. The Library of Lost and Found is an endearing novel with engaging characters that has its harder, sadder moments, but doesn't dwell long in them. It is a an easy, pleasing read and a feel-good story about books and writing, family and secrets, and ultimately the power of finding yourself and your passions.
Author Notes: Phaedra Patrick studied art and marketing and has worked as a stained glass artist, film festival organizer and communications manager. She is a prize winning short story writer and now writes full time.
She lives in the UK with her husband and son. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is her debut novel.
Connect with Phaedra on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
There was food and drink to be found The Library of Lost and Found, and plenty of traditional British food. Mentions included heart-shaped cookies, rosé wine, bacon,Cheese and onion pie, tea and biscuits, chocolate fudge cake, ice cream sundaes, cordial, ham sandwiches, beef and potatoes, steak and kidney pie, coffee and cake, beans on toast, hot dogs, candy floss, ice cream with chocolate flakes and multicolored sugar sprinkles, a toffee apple, muesli, milkshakes, Americanos, macchiatos, date and walnut cake, sticky toffee pudding, carrot cake, chips and cheese, pickled onions, pie and peas and pickled red cabbage, a dinner party that included blush prosecco, baby new potatoes in minted butter, steamy carrots and green beans, a juicy nut roast, and slices of beef, bread with salt and peppercorn butter, coleslaw, Chardonnay, fruit loaf with juicy cherries and sultanas, tiramisu and merlot, cheese sandwich and a cup of tea, cottage pie, salmon carrot sticks and hummus, sausage rolls and crisp, anniversary cake, a salad of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber in a bowl with cress sprinkled on top, sausages and pineapple on sticks, apple pie, rhubarb crumble, chocolates, tomato soup with bred and butter and golden tea, milk and hot buttered toast, mince pies, and turkey with vegetables and gravy.
For my book-inspired dish, I went with a British classic--fish and chips with mushy peas enjoyed on a cold day along the seaside. Martha's enjoyment of this meal with her family was palpable--trying to keep themselves and their takeout food warm and the mention of the pools of brown vinegar she loved. I love fish and chips although I am more a tarter sauce fan than vinegar. I found a Nigella Lawson recipe for mushy peas (Called Pea Puree on Food Network) and her recipe for Dill Mayonnaise and I used Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Perfect Fish and Chips from RiverCottage.com. I will confess that my French Fries were grabbed through a drive-thru on my way home and crisped up in my toaster oven.
Nigella's Posh Mushy Peas aka Pea Puree
Slightly Adapted from Nigella Lawson via Food Network.com
(Yield 1 Serving)
1 clove garlic
5 oz frozen pies
1 to 2 Tbsp crème fraîche (I used sour cream)
1 to 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan or Pecorino
1/2 tsp dried mint
(I added about 1 Tbsp lemon juice)
Fill a pan with cold water and throw in the clove of garlic. Bring to the boil and then add salt and the peas. Cook until tender, drain, and put into a food processor, or blender, and add the crème fraîche, cheese, and dried mint. Puree the peas until knobbly and check the seasoning, adding salt if you need to. Tip the pureed peas into a bowl (or back in the pan is probably a better idea) and cover to keep them warm.
Slightly Adapted from Nigella Lawson via Food Network.com
(Makes 1 Cup)
1 cup good mayonnaise
small bunch dill (about 1/3 cup)
lemon or lime juice to taste
(I added 1 Tbsp capers, drained)
Put the mayonnaise into a bowl, and finely chop the dill, adding it to the mayonnaise. Stir in capers and some lime juice and taste for seasoning. Serve with the prepared fish.
Perfect Fish and Chips
Slightly Adapted from RiverCottage.com
300ml (about 10 oz) beer
200g (about 1 cup) flour
salt (I added black pepper)
2 fresh fillets of pollock (I used cod)
500ml (about 2 cups) sunflower oil
Salt the fish fillets. Add 200g of plain flour with seasoning of salt to a large bowl. Add beer slowly and whisk flour with enough beer to turn into double cream consistency with no lumps.
Dip fish in and then into the oil at 160°C (320 F.) for 2-3 minutes until crispy and golden, drain and put on kitchen towel briefly before serving.
Notes/Results: Although I like peas, I wasn't sure I got the whole mushy peas appeal with fish and chips, but these peas are tasty and especially if you use vinegar with your fish and chips, the slight sweetness of the peas is a nice contrast. I liked the prominent dill flavor in the mayo sauce, but I of course needed to add my beloved capers too. The fish (I used frozen cod) was perfectly cooked--moist and tender and the beer batter appropriately crisp. Had i had more time to get dinner made, homemade fries would have been the best, but these take-outdid fine in a pinch. Although not a very healthy meal, it was well worth the indulgence and I would happily make it all again.
Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs where it this week we have a Cuisine Spotlight on Classic British Food.
I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.
Note: A review copy of "The Library of Lost and Found" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.