First though, here are the main character Elise's thoughts on the library:
The library was situated in the north wing of the house, the drive and porch outside one window, and the front lawns outside the other. Unless Mr Rivers was present, the curtains were kept drawn to protect the fragile bindings of the ancient books. The sea air, so beneficial for rude human health, corroded the Rivers' family library, so that when some of the books were opened the pages sloughed away to nothingness. I once ran my finger along a leather spine and a layer of crimson flaked away onto my skin. Mrs Ellesworth instructed me to burn pinecones in the grate each morning and dip candles in lavender oil, but the fragrance of musty books pervaded. The daily housemaids detested the rooms, complaining it was 'duckish dark an' puts us all in a bother', and I earned their profuse gratitude when I offered to take over its cleaning. I liked the proximity of Julian's novels, and I found the permanent twilight soothing rather than eerie and I liked it best at dusk. Then I would trim the scented candles while the orange sun lowered in the west, making the spines of the books appear to blaze for a minute and then dull, as the sun slipped behind the shadow of the hill.
I should mention that Julian is her father and Elise is a Jewish refugee who has come to work in Britain as a maid in the days just before World War II.