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Thomas Maloney was born in Kent in 1979, grew up in London, and studied physics at university. He is a competent but unexceptional mountaineer and an astigmatic birdwatcher. He lives in Oxfordshire with his wife, daughter, and kayak.
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2017. A timeless, beautifully written novel. Maloney is a gifted writer and storyteller and to have produced the quality of prose that he has here in this debut is exciting indeed. When Samuel Browne’s wife unexpectedly leaves him he is lost. They were happy or so he thought and suddenly is unsure as the ordered, comfortable life he had come to know is blown apart. In an effort to distract himself from the fallout he immerses himself in books which then leads him to Combe Hall. Resigning from his comfortable job he spends seventeen weeks there as a volunteer working to solve a mystery that lurks amongst the pages of the books in the vast, ancient library. Through these ancient tomes Samuel embarks on a journey in which he hopes to uncover both the secret held within the library's walls and the secret to his own happiness. This was an absolute joy to read. Maloney’s prose is rather beautiful and I took great joy in lingering and rereading many parts. Drawn to the premise of a mysterious house and ancient library I was intrigued to see what Maloney could add to this appealing but well used subject matter. Maloney’s engaging narrator made my thoughts creep to the familiarity of reading classics such as Brontë or Austen and I instantly warmed to the lost and bewildered Samuel Browne. This is a contemporary story that has the feel of an old soul as a history of the printed word intertwines with the mysteries surrounding a family and their library. There are many messages to be found within the pages but in essence it could be seen as an exploration of the lessons learned from those who have come before and the lives they lived. However I also feel it is a tribute to the written word and encourages us to consider its value to past, present and the future. Simply sublime. ~ Shelley Fallows