Excerpt from The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Last Chance Library

by Freya Sampson

The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson X
The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    Aug 2021, 336 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

You can tell a lot about a person from the library books they borrow.

June liked to play a game when things were quiet at work. She'd pick a patron and make up their life story based on the books they read. Today she'd chosen a middle-aged lady who took out two Danielle Steel novels and The Rough Guide to Iceland. After some consideration, June decided that the woman was trapped in a loveless marriage, perhaps with a boorish, aggressive husband. She was planning to run away to Reykjav'k, where she'd fall in love with a rugged, bearded local. But just as she thought she'd found true happiness, her husband would track her down and announce-

"Well, that was a pile of shit."

June was snapped out of her daydream by Mrs. Bransworth, who was standing in front of the desk waving a book in her face. It was Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day.

"What a pointless load of rubbish. Masters and servants? Capitalist propaganda more like. I could write better than this."

Mrs. B came into the library several times a week, wearing an ancient Afghan coat and fingerless gloves, even in the height of summer. She chose her books seemingly at random; one day it would be a manual on plumbing, the next a volume by a Nobel Prize-winning author. But whatever she borrowed, it always had the same outcome.

"I'm thinking of handing my library card back in protest."

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Bransworth. You can have first pick of the new stock if you like?"

"Probably all crap," Mrs. B said, and she stormed off toward the Sports shelf, leaving a faint smell of wet goat lingering at the desk.

June finished loading up the ancient returns trolley and began to navigate it around the room. Chalcot Library occupied what had once been the village school, a drafty redbrick building erected in the 1870s. It had been converted into a library eighty years later but had retained many of its original features, including a slate roof that leaked in heavy rain, floorboards that creaked underfoot, and a family of persistent mice who were eating their way through the boxes of archives stored in the loft. The council had last redecorated the library sometime in the nineties, with strip lighting and institutional green carpet. But June still liked to imagine what it must have been like in its earliest incarnation, when grubby-faced children sat in rows of desks where the shelves now stood, learning to write their letters on dusty slates like a scene from Jane Eyre.

As she pushed the trolley toward the front of the room, June saw her boss marching toward her, a copy of Mrs. Dalloway poking out of her handbag.

"I need to see you in my office. Now."

Marjorie Spencer was the library manager, a title she wore pinned to her blouse like a war medal. She claimed to only read highbrow literary novels, but June knew she'd renewed Fifty Shades of Grey at least three times.

June followed her boss into the office. It was actually a stock cupboard-cum-staff room, but Marjorie had put in a desk years ago and had even hung a name plaque on the door. There was no space for any other chairs, so June perched on a stack of printer paper.

"This is strictly entre nous, but I've just had a call from the council," Marjorie said, fiddling with the string of pearls around her neck. "They want me to go in on Monday for an urgent meeting. In the boardroom." She paused to check that June was suitably impressed with this information. "You'll have to manage on your own while I'm gone."

"Okay, that's fine."

"It's too short notice to cancel Rhyme Time, so I'll need you to take it for me too."

June felt her chest tightening. "Actually, I'm sorry, I forgot, but Alan has a-"

"No buts. Besides, it will be good practice for you-once I retire at Christmas, my replacement may want you to take over the sessions anyway."

June's stomach dropped at the thought. "Marjorie, you know I can't-"

Excerpted from The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson. Copyright © 2021 by Freya Sampson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Matilda by Roald Dahl

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Today's Top Picks

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
by Charlotte McConaghy
A breathtaking page-turner and an ode to our threatened world.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Lost Notebook of Edouard Manet
    by Maureen Gibbon

    A sensual portrait of Manet's last years, and a vibrant testament of the artistic spirit.

  • Book Jacket

    Never Saw Me Coming
    by Vera Kurian

    "Fun, entertaining and hard to put down."
    The New York Journal of Books

Win This Book!
Win A Most Clever Girl

A Most Clever Girl by Stephanie Marie Thornton

A thrilling novel of love and espionage, based on the incredible true story of a Cold War double agent.



Solve this clue:

Run T G

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.