A Library of Lemons is the wonderful novel from writer Jo Cotterill. Full of warmth and compassion it’s an incredibly addictive read which pulls the reader in to the world of Calypso.
Calypso and her dad are struggling to cope since the death of Calypso’s mum. Calypso’s dad has become increasingly distance and teaches Calypso that is the way forward – to build up ‘inner strength’ rather than relying on anyone else.
Ironically he is, in turn, reliant on Calypso – to tidy up, to cook food and get herself to school – whilst he becomes evermore distant holed up in his study penning his ‘important historical’ manuscript A History of Lemons.
At school Calypso would rather keep her head buried in the world of her wonderful books than speak to anyone. And then Mae appears. A girl who opens up Calypso’s world, and shares that wonderful love of books.
‘Mae’s taste in books is so similar to mine it gives me a rush of warmth. I had thought I was the only one whose life was consumed by stories.’
Together they embark on a wonderful friendship sharing a love of books and writing. As Calypso gets closer to Mae’s warm, lively family she realises the stark contrast with her own home life.
… and when things take a dark turn for Calypso at home, Mae’s family are there to help and provide the support that she needs.
Told from Calypso’s point of view there are many poignant moments as she gradually pieces together the break down that her dad is suffering from – that she is a carer for her dad and this it IS ok to ask for help. Cotterill handles this viewpoint brilliantly, with a carefully controlled, delicate touch.
Cotterill’s wonderful narrative has so many quotable lines – from her delight in the wonderful world of fiction, to the frustrating wait for replies from publishers!
A Library of Lemons is an absorbing read, full of warm poignant moments and keenly observed details. Just brilliant.
You can find out more about Sarah Dennis who designed the eye catching cover, and chapter headers here.