The Dewey Decimal System of Love by Josephine Carr

The Dewey Decimal System of LoveBook Review:  The Dewey Decimal System of Love by Josephine Carr

On the surface, Alison Sheffield is a stereotypical librarian — she may opt for a french twist rather than a bun, but she definitely embraces high-necked blouses, long skirts, and dowdy clothing in general.  She hasn’t had sex in 15 years and has been quite happy with her life.  But then a new maestro joins the symphony and suddenly she finds herself indulging in lascivious thoughts and WANTING things.  Even before she treats herself to a makeover, the sparkle in her eyes and the flush in her cheeks causes people to take notice — especially her longtime friend Gordon Albright.

I wanted to like this book and at times, I did.  I loved the call number headings with examples of titles at the beginning of each chapter.  I loved that Ally’s originally dowdy appearance was offset by her love of a good martini, driving in a convertible with the top down, and her luscious apartment.  I liked her reassessment of her life and her relationships; I liked her relationship with Gordon.  Ally’s volunteer work for the Symphony was fun — I loved the discoveries that she made.

BUT.  Despite the fact that the author’s mother is a librarian, I didn’t find Alison all that convincing as a librarian.  Librarians don’t get annoyed when patrons leave their materials for us to reshelve; however, there’s a good chance that a librarian WILL get annoyed if a patron DOES reshelve their materials.  Most of us like to keep track of the materials used inside the library but not checked out — this gives us a better idea of how the collection is used and enables us to make better decisions about which titles to keep and which titles to withdraw.  And then, there is the fact that we don’t expect you to squint at the tiny type on the spine labels to make sure that the book is correctly reshelved so that it’s easily found for the next patron.  While we’re not likely to react like Mary in Party Girl, we are likely to squirm uncomfortably if we see you take a book back to the shelf, and the truly obsessive among us will make a mental note to shelf read that section as soon as possible.

Alison’s decision regarding Ed also puzzled me.  I’m all for helping someone who’s down on their luck BUT when someone has been creeping out the staff by asking for obscure articles on serial killers, the last solution that I would choose is to offer the guy a volunteer position in the basement.  Just sayin’.

Librarian nitpicking aside, I wasn’t fond of the fact that Alison decided to go after a married man but it was an interesting storyline.  I did enjoy the speculation about the wife and I wish that Carr had given it a little more development.  There’s all of this speculation about what the Maestro’s wife is up to and then boom!  Suddenly the husband is the villain and Ally no longer cares why Mrs. Kullio was researching poisons.  It would have been nice to have something mentioned like, “Hmmm.  I guess she may have been working on a novel, after all.”  Ed’s storyline could have used more development as well.

All in all, this is a lighthearted read and the story is sort of fun if you’re not a nitpicky librarian who is easily distracted by thoughts like “OKAY, I’ll admit that there are dowdy librarians out there, but we never EVER get irritated because patrons don’t reshelve their materials.”


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