The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Book: The Woman in the Library

Author: Sulari Gentill

Genre: Fiction; Mystery; Experimental Fiction; Books About Books

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Format: eBook and audiobook

eBook Length: 292 pages

Audiobook Length: 8 hours, 58 minutes

Okay, first things first: this is not a book about a woman in a library.

This is a book about an established writer named Hannah and an aspiring writer named Leo who are corresponding over email. Each chapter is made up of two parts: Hannah’s manuscript about a woman found dead in a library and Leo’s reaction to what Hannah has written. Not only that, but Hannah’s main character, Freddie, is also a writer who was inspired to create her own tale about a woman’s scream in a library. So, this is a story about a story about a woman in a library writing about a woman in a library.

The effect is kind of mind boggling. It allows the author to explore the actual process of writing a mystery novel as well as cultural differences between Americans and Australians. There’s also a discussion about whether or not writers should acknowledge the COVID 19 pandemic in their books. Leo’s emails changed the overall tone of the story and the way I reacted to certain events or characters, especially since I often disagreed with his statements. I definitely read Freddie’s adventure differently than I would have if it had been presented as a complete book on its own.

I originally received an Advanced Reader ebook of this novel, but I found the story difficult for my brain to follow in that format. It kept wanting to skip over Leo’s emails, which are very important to the overall book. Luckily, I was able to listen to the audiobook version of the story narrated by Katherine Littrell. I found it easier to understand the book as a whole in this format. The narrator did an amazing job bringing the story to life, but I wish there had been a different voice for Leo’s emails. I think it would have added another layer to the listening experience.

Thank you to NetGalley, Dreamscape Media, and Poisoned Pen Press for an Advanced Reader Copy ebook and audiobook. ⁠

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