A Story Within a Story Within a Story

The second audiobook we listened to on our Thanksgiving trip was The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill. This one falls into my special category of “books about books” in more than one way. First, the pivotal scene in the book takes place in the Boston Public Library. And the book is also about a writer who is writing a mystery that starts in that location. On top of that, the author writing about that writer is corresponding with someone who is helping her as a first reader as she prepares and shares each chapter. This may sound a bit confusing, but Gentill makes everything clear to the point it almost seems natural.

The bulk of the book is about the book the author is writing. We read each chapter of this book right before we read the letter from the helper to the author with his thoughts. The story is told in the first person by the author and starts with her sitting in the reading room of the Boston Public Library trying to write her book. She notices three others close by who grab her attention as possible characters in her story. Then they all hear a woman scream. This causes the four to start a conversation that leads to a friendship. After they learn later than evening that a woman was murdered in the library, their friendship deepens as they all try to figure out what happened.

It is hard to say much more without spoiling it. The relationships grow and twist and change in ways that feel somewhat natural despite the odd circumstances. And the multiple layers add to the mystery and kept me interested right to the end.

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