Look. It’s hard for a book club not to like a book about books and libraries. It’s the very kind of feel-good meta theme that a dedicated fiction reader needs now and again. And The Library of Lost and Found delivers that. It also delivers some frank and painful family dynamics and a main character so lost that it takes her the whole book to find herself again.
Whether you empathized with Martha’s depressive state…or you shook your head, wondering how she let things get so out of hand…there’s a lot to talk about here. And we are here to help you do that with the following The Library of Lost and Found book club questions.
Start with the publisher’s synopsis. Do you feel that it acurately reflects your experience of the book? I think it’s missing a mention of the fraught family relationships, but that’s up to you and your group to discuss.
Following the synopsis are 10 Library of Lost and Found discussion guide questions followed by some thought provoking reviews.
And if you liked the novel’s vibe, we also have three books like The Library of Lost and Found that you can add to your TBR pile.
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The Library of Lost and Found Synopsis
The Library of Lost and Found, by Phaedra Patrick
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.
The Library of Lost and Found Book Club Questions
- Martha goes from a sassy, creative girl to a shy people-pleaser with low confidence. How much of that was driven by the authoritarian grip that her father Thomas had on the household? And how much had to do with the loss of her grandmother at such an impressionable age? Or was something else at work?
- Martha’s fairy stories are whimsical but also grounded in her own reality at home. What did you think of the stories? Did you have a favorite?
- Martha’s inability to say “no” escalates to a point where she is drowning in projects. What did you think of the friends who kept taking advantage of her? Did people even want her to do these projects for them? Can you say no?
- Martha became profoundly lost after the death of her parents. She’s hoarding. She doesn’t have a paying job. She’s unclear on what to do next. If she was your friend, what sort of advice would you give her?
- Betty had to make an impossible choice. She was forced to choose between her husband and her mother. What would you have done?
- Betty felt that she owed Thomas a debt of gratitude because he married her while she was pregnant with someone else’s baby. How have our social mores changed? Would she even have married him in modern day England?
- Was your grandma more like Zelda, Betty, or Lilian?
- Martha’s seems like a character from another era. The modern day portions of the book are set in roughly in the mid 2015’s. And yet, unlike the other characters, Martha’s doesn’t have a mobile phone. Nor, for that matter, does she have her own computer. Why was she stuck in time?
- Do Martha and Owen get together in the end?
- What was lost? What was found? And what did the library have to do with it?
The Library of Lost and Found Selected Reviews
“Phaedra Patrick has crafted a quiet, quirky, and quaint tale. This book was so special… A book about complicated family dynamics, discovering who you are, and understanding that it’s OK to put yourself first. The book also treats the reader to a generous dose of mystery and a magical sprinkling of fairytales. An enchanting tale unlike anything I’ve read before.”
“It was dreary to spend several chapters with a brutally selfish Father and appallingly voiceless Mother. You don’t get stuck in any circumstances when you have a supportive parent like Zelda. Martha was an outspoken girl, whom I don’t think would turn submissive, when in charge of her Father in infirmity. I understand being unable to follow a fiancé overseas but it is nonsense not to marry someone else. No one is our only shot at happiness!”
“Martha Storm is a wonderfully weak protagonist who is confronted with her past and has to take a stand in her own life. She is endearing and I’d be hard pressed to find a reader that didn’t fall in love with her quirks.”
“When a family harbors closely-guarded secrets, one has to feel empathy for Martha, the main character, who is also a librarian. She comes off sounding like a doormat, trying hard to please everyone, as well as being a nervous, shameful hoarder; however, her issues make sense, coming from a family where her father was emotionally abusive to her mother as well as to her. Also, the loss of her beloved grandmother, Zelda, was her breaking point.”
3 Books like The Library of Lost and Found
If you love librarians then be sure to check out our book club guide for The Cartographers, these 20 books about librarians and another 20 books set in libraries. If you are interested in more characters who have great difficultly in social circumstances, try The Rosie Project or Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
The Midnight Library, Matt Haig
Aimless and depressed woman who isn’t sure what to do next? Check. Evocative and helpful library? Check, check. Although in Haig’s fantastical novel, the main character Nora finds herself in a metaphorical library after trying to kill herself. The library is stocked with books, which enable Nora to sample alternative versions of her life, ones that might have been if she had only made a difference choice at a key juncture.
If you read it, then you can also check out or discussion guide for the Midnight Library.
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, Phaedra Patrick
If you liked the family storyline and plaintive vibe of Library, then you may also like Patrick’s Arthur Pepper. He’s a recent widow and stuck in his routines. Upon the annivarsary of his wife’s death, he finds a charm bracelet that he didn’t know she owned. Intruiged, he goes on a quest to find out about his wife’s secret life before she met him. It’s a story of grief, loss and hope.
By Melissa Albert
If the fairy tales are what grabbed your attention, then take a look at the Hazel Wood series. It leans more hard fantasy than The Library of Lost and Found, but there is a strong family story at the center of the novel. Alice’s grandmother, the author of a series of dark fairy tales becomes a recluse, dying alone on her dark wooded estate. Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, bare a step ahead of the uncanny and creepy bad luck thatdogs them. After her mother is kidnapped, Alice vows to get to the bottom of her family’s story.
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