Alison Sheffield is a forty year old woman, a director of the reference department for the Philadelphia Free Library, and celibate. She’s been celibate for fifteen years and is quite happy with her status. Until she sees Aleksi Kullio, the new conductor for the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra. When she sees him, she falls hopelessly, inexplicably in love. Too bad she’s never met him and that he’s married. Ally doesn’t let such small details interfere with the depth of her emotion, and finds a way to remedy the situation in The Dewey Decimal System of Love by Josephine Carr.
When Ally goes to work on the Monday after Kullio's premier concert, it’s immediately apparent to her boss, Gordon Albright, that something about her is different. Indeed, looking beyond her high-necked blouse and long skirt to the bloom of color in her cheeks and the sparkle in her eyes, he’s certain Ally is in love. Gordon and Ally have worked together for many years, and are best friends at work, but they don’t socialize outside the office. Gordon is a “serial womanizer,” and not Ally’s type at all. But he is someone she trusts and respects.
Along with Gordon and Ally, Ms. Carr introduces us to an assortment of characters. Suzanne, her best friend and confidant since Bryn Mawr days, figures prominently in solving a mystery that develops around Maestro Kullio. Her mother, a sexy doctor, eludes Ally’s understanding—and the feeling is reciprocated. Ed, a homeless man who hangs around the library has a secret or two to impart, as does Yvonne, her coworker. And of course, there’s Michelle, the Maestro’s wife, mysterious and unlikable.
From the moment I picked up The Dewey Decimal System of Love I was captivated. The story is so well written, the humor woven throughout the telling, that I became engrossed in the story and loved every minute. There is no action, as such, although plenty happens, and no sex, although there’s plenty of time spent discussing it. The story is told in first person. Ms. Carr utilizes no special writer’s tricks to entice the reader into caring about her characters. She has no need to. As a reader, you are there, participating in the conversations, mulling over decisions to be made, right along with Ally and the crew.
If you like a romance that’s about love and not about fast paced jumping into bed, I highly recommend The Dewey Decimal System of Love. I give it my highest compliment—I’m keeping it to read again.