‘I Arrive First’ by Emma Jane Unsworth

I Arrive First by Emma Jane Unsworth, 2011

The magic trick:

A clever, romantic premise – in a library

A fun, good-hearted story today for your Valentine’s Day.

The idea is the key. It’s not the characters or the setting or the intricately crafted sentences. Just a very clever idea – a couple communicating with each other silently through the titles of the library books they display on their tables. Plus, I mean, how many SSMT regulars can resist a romance set in a library?

And that’s quite a trick on Unsworth’s part.

The selection:

That means it is my turn to start. I put my cloth bag down on the table and make my way over to the shelves. I walk past Poetry towards General Fiction and move along the rows, tapping a few spines as I go. I finally settle on Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities. The book is hard-backed, big and heavy. When it comes off the shelf it leaves a wide gap that the surrounding books domino-fall into. I carry it in both hands back across the room. I lost my hairbrush this morning. I turned the bathroom inside out looking for it but it was no good; it’s gone for ever. The best I could do was drag my fingers through my hair and scrape it back into a snarly bun. I position the book in the usual place: upside down in the top right corner of the table. It’s a tenuous joke but I know he’ll get it. We’re on the same wavelength.

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